Raising thankful kids



10 ways to teach children how to be thankful

Happy kids, thankful children, playing together


There's no better time than Thanksgiving to teach your children what it means to be thankful and how they can show their appreciation. It's a tricky concept to teach to younger children but your older children can help. Teaching children to be thankful is important because it promotes sensitivity to the feelings of others and they won't grow up feeling entitled. Grateful people tend to be more optimistic in life and overall happier. Lori and Michael Bredemeier, founders of Little Toader, share their tips on how to teach your children to be thankful.

1. Create a thankful tree
A thankful tree is a creative way for you and your children to share what you're grateful for. Everyone can write down what they are thankful for on different colored construction paper leaves that you use to decorate your tree. Keep the tree in your living room and you can add to it each day and remember what you're thankful for every time you pass by it.

READ MORE: Ways to give back during the holidays


2. Count your blessings
When your children are having difficulty falling asleep, teach them to count their blessings instead of counting sheep. Have them recount in their head everything that they are thankful for (even the little things!) and soon enough they'll be drifting off to dreamland.

3. Lead by example
Children learn by following their parents' example so teach them to be thankful by remembering to always say thank you. Make a point of saying "please" and "thank you" when you interact with others and when you talk to your children. Thank them for their hugs, when they clean up their room, and when they help clear the table.


4. Have them donate old toys/clothes
When your children outgrow their clothes and toys, ask them to donate to less fortunate children. Explain to them why these children need their old toys and clothes and they will learn to appreciate what they have and to give to those in need.

5. Write thank you notes
Any time your child receives a gift, whether for Christmas, birthdays or other holidays, have them write short and sweet thank you notes or ask them what they would like to say while you write it down. Little ones can even draw pictures to accompany your written thank you notes if they're still too young to write.

6. Let kids contribute
Have your children make get well cards for a sick family member, help you set the table, or visit an elderly neighbor. When they know that they are helping others they will also feel thankful for all the things that you and others do for them.

READ MORE: 30 MORE ways to give thanks 


7. Have a thankful jar 
Your kids can decorate a jar to keep on the table next to a pencil and paper. Everyone in the family can write down what they are thankful for in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. On the big day during or after your Thanksgiving meal, the kids can take out the notes and read aloud what the family is thankful for.

8. Reward children with a hug
When your child says thank you let them know how much you appreciate their appreciation. Give your child and hug and say, "It makes me happy when you say thank you!" This positive attention will reinforce their good behavior.

9. Make small sacrifices
Practice making sacrifices with your children such as not driving the car short distances and walking instead, or taking 5 minute showers instead of long, hot ones. This makes you realize what things you take for granted every day and teaches your children to be more humble.

10. Reflect together at the end of the day
Before your kids go to bed at night, talk to them about their day and reflect on the good things that happened. By doing this you're encouraging them to actually think about what they should be grateful for and it ends the day on a positive note.