Giving thanks is more than just saying ‘thank you’ at the right time. Of course, a verbal expression of thanks is always appreciated, but there are other ways your children can convey their gratitude. By teaching them how to give thanks, you can also also make them aware of related concepts such as the appreciation of what they have, beyond the possession of material things.
Act As A Grateful Role Model
As you teach your child to give thanks, you may want to revise the amount of gratitude you yourself display. Do you always say thank you when someone does you a favor? Or when someone you know well makes a small gesture e.g. your spouse passes you the salt at the dinner table? Do you give a wave of thanks when you’re in the car with the family and someone lets you merge into their lane on the highway? Do you articulate your pleasure at being able to spend time with your children at the park on a sunny afternoon? Your words and actions that express gratitude are picked up on, and often copied by, your children. Similarly, your lack of gratitude will also be seen as perfectly normal behavior by your kids, and they’ll act accordingly. By always setting the right example, your children will learn to give thanks every day.
Don’t Just Say It
These days, many people consider an email of thanks to be sufficient. Teaching your children that modern but flawed philosophy is the wrong thing to do. Encourage your kids to learn the art of the hand written thank you note. The note might be to thank a school friend for inviting your child to their birthday party, or to a teacher to say thanks for all their hard work and dedication. Whoever the recipient might be, they’ll appreciate a hand written note much more than an email. It’s a good habit for your child to get into, and an excellent way for them to develop their written communication skills.
Giving thanks doesn’t have to be in verbal or written form, and it doesn’t have to be expressed in the form of a thank you gift. Giving thanks is something that can be felt by the individual..call it a feeling of internal gratitude. It’s about teaching your children to appreciate the things in life that are really important, well beyond their toys and other possessions. Good health. Friends. A loving family. A roof over their head.
One way to emphasize the need to appreciate these things is to volunteer, and show your children how good they have it compared to some. A soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, or a hospital are just a few of the places that provide stark examples of how lucky your children are. By doing some voluntary work in these places, you can begin to instil in your child the knowledge of what really matters in life.
Giving Thanks During Thanksgiving
Use the occasion of Thanksgiving to act as a launching pad for your educational campaign. Explain the broad origins of Thanksgiving, and its significance as a holiday and a symbol of gratitude. Then, show how Thanksgiving can act as an inspiration in expressing gratitude on a daily basis.
Learning should be fun, and teaching your children to give thanks should be an interesting and entertaining experience for them. You can turn it in to something of a game by awarding points for unprompted displays of gratitude, and deduct points when you feel they have shown a lack of thankfulness. Be creative and use art to teach them. For example, your children can make colorful place mats for each guest at your Thanksgiving celebration, with each mat showing in written and drawn form what it is about each guest they appreciate. e.g. Grandma’s hugs, Uncle John’s corny jokes and cheerful manner. Teaching your children to give thanks is a very important life lesson but it’s one that will be absorbed much sooner when you add an element of fun. And one more thing.. thank you for reading!
Author Bio: Angela Henderson is a Clinical Psychologist and owner of www.finleeandme.com.au, an online store specialising in baby and kids products designed to not only keep them looking fashionable but aid their developmental goals too.