Being grateful is an important quality for many adults to have. It reminds us what is important in our lives, allows us to work through difficult situations, and often makes others in our lives feel loved. Teaching your children to give thanks is an important job, but there’s no doubt that it can seem abstract and even difficult. With Thanksgiving right around the corner it’s the perfect opportunity to teach your children all the great ways to be thankful. We’ve rounded up five tangible ways to help you teach your children about being thankful.
Let’s start with the basics. How you act as an adult is the best teaching tool for children, so making an effort to add “thank-you” to your vocabulary will lay the foundation. Ensure that your children use this as well. Once it’s in the family lexicon then it’s easier to start to teach the meaning behind the word.
Use Make Believe
Many children are better at learning when they’re physically doing the task as opposed to simply being told. Try playing a fun imagination game where you role-play different scenarios that they may have to give thanks. Pretend you’re puppies at a kennel, or a dragon at a birthday party, or pretend you’re hosting the most glorious Thanksgiving party in the kingdom. Playing with imagination will help them associate thanks in many ways besides the regular. Once you feel that your child is progressing encourage them to teach their stuffies about being thankful and see how well they understand the concept.
A literal example can really help children to understand this concept. A great game to play is called, “Rose & Thorn”. As adults know roses are beautiful and smell very nice, but they also have pointy thorns which can be painful if you grab onto them. This demonstrates that there are good things and not-so-good things in life. The way this game works is that you take a rose and pass it around the room (or table) and each person who holds it has to tell one positive thing that is happening in their life and then one not positive thing in their life. This shows the rose and thorns of our everyday life and reminds children to that being thankful for what we have is a balance. It also reminds us to look for the positive in our lives, while acknowledging that things are not always perfect. This can even be a fun way to kick off Thanksgiving dinner!
When teaching about thankfulness it’s easy to fall into a routine of comparing what your family has to what less fortunate people may have. This can have an unwanted result as it can make your children feel guilty as opposed to feeling thankful. Without using comparisons try to explain the simple differences. You can explain that some families may not have many toys, or books, or new clothes and to be thankful for what they may have. Depending on the age of your children this can be more or less descriptive.
What ways do you teach your children about being thankful? What age do you find it most important? Comment below and let us know what you think.
~ Alicia & Jeremy