Thanksgiving is a perfect time to talk to your kids about what it means to be thankful. Even our youngest children are developing their understanding of what it means to be thankful. Beyond modeling gratitude, and reminding your young child(ren) to say thank you, what else can you do to foster thankfulness?
- Help your children “do” something to express their thanks. Maybe it’s drawing or coloring a picture, “writing” a special note, or showing appreciation through an act of kindness.
- A popular Thanksgiving dinner tradition includes having everyone share one thing they’re thankful for. When my daughter was little she loved to draw dinner place-cards for her visiting aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends. She called them her “thankful notes.”
- Positive attention for a child’s expression of gratitude — “that was a nice way to thank your friend for sharing” or “I saw you thank your aunt for your birthday gift” — can help reinforce gratitude.
Research shows that grateful children tend to be happier, healthier and more optimistic. In fact, a 2019 study in the Journal of Happiness found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. So, start early and have fun!
And have a Happy Thanksgiving!