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5 Tips for Teaching Gratefulness this Thanksgiving


By Megan Gilbreath

With Thanksgiving around the corner, your children are likely hearing a lot about this upcoming5 Tips for Teaching Thanfulness celebration. But how can we be sure that kids know there’s more behind the holiday than classroom crafts and grocery store runs?

What does Thanksgiving mean anyways? According to Merriam-Webster, thanksgiving is the act of giving thanks.

But in the crazy, consumer me-me-me society we live in, how can parents and nannies teach children to take a moment to stop and express thanks?

To be sure you don’t get stuck in the holiday gobble, gobble, here’s five ways you can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in young kids.

1. Say “Thank you.”

It’s as simple as that! Whether your child gets a new gift, a compliment or is the recipient of another act of kindness, “thank you” should immediately follow. We often forget that these two simple words can go such a long way in making someone feel special and appreciated. When “thank you” is instilled in a child’s vocabulary at a young age, offering up thanks will become a lifelong habit.

2. Lead by Example.

When you stop and think about it, it really is mind boggling how well little eyes and little ears can see and hear. Children are learning machines, growing in knowledge every day. But learning goes deeper than gaining knowledge. Children pick up the behaviors and characteristics of those around them, shaping them into who they later become. Be sure to let your children hear you give thanks and offer praise when someone shows you kindness. And of course, don’t forget to tell your children why you’re thankful for them.

3. Turn negatives into positives.

Regardless of age, at some time or another, most people struggle with turning lemons into lemonade. Wouldn’t it be so rewarding to help a child learn to see the silver linings, rather than leaving him to focus on life’s frustration and disappointments? The next time your child complains he can’t go to the park because it’s raining, find a creative way to make staying inside seem just as fun.

4. Take a look around.

Go for a nature walk with your child. Have her point out a few beautiful items that catch her eye. Maybe she noticed how big and bright the sun is or how bright the wings of a cardinal really are. Help your child see and appreciate the beauty in the world around her.

5. Give thanks together each day.

Oftentimes we get caught up in our busy lives and forget what’s truly important. Make a habit out of sharing what you’re grateful for each day while you’re sitting around the dinner table. A simple family activity like this can go a long way in helping children to appreciate the people, places and things around them.

By putting some of these strategies into place, you can cultivate thankful hearts that will continue to be grateful long past the holiday season.

Megan Gilbreath is a California college student pursuing journalism and public relations. She is also a working nanny who spends her time caring for two toddlers who keep her busy and joyful as she navigates caretaking through their medical conditions of high functioning autism and developmental delay. Connect with Megan on Twitter @meganrgilbreath.

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