At a very young age, children may learn to say the words thank you but do they understand how powerful these words are? May be not. Are they really grateful? No. Thankfulness is something that has to be taught. It isn’t natural behavior.
Do we just not teach them about thankfulness until they are older then? No. They may start off just by using the words but they will grow up to connect them with deeds and manners. Ignoring it early on may result in difficulties later on. Let’s see how you can imbibe thankfulness at an early stage in life.
Start with yourself
We all know kids take after us. Our tone and our perspectives rub off on them. Thus, it is advisable that you show gratefulness when you speak to them. Something as simple as, “Thank you for taking care of your sister,” or “It was nice of you to look after your sister while I was busy,” can encourage them to adopt the same tone.
Make it a routine
After dinner, you can make it a habit for everyone to share one thing that they are thankful about. Younger kids will learn after a few similar sessions and start sharing their thoughts as well. You could even ask them why they are thankful so that it becomes a fun and interactive session.
Teach them that it is much more than just things
Your kid might say he is thankful for his favorite toy. Teach him that more than being thankful for a toy, he should be thankful to the person who bought it for him.
Also, while we are at it, let’s make it a point to teach our kids that gifts are meaningful because a lot of thought goes into buying them. They are not just materials. They are gestures that must be treasured. Whether it is something big or small, teach them about the thought. “Wow. Uncle X must have worked hard to find something you really like!” Or “That drawing is beautiful. It must have taken your friend a long time to make it for you.”
Don’t use comparison as a means of teaching
Educating your kids that there are less fortunate kids in the world is a good idea but comparing them to other kids will only lead to guilt. We all, at some point, want to tell our kids that they have a lot that others don’t. However, this is one teaching methodology that does not work. Based on how old your kid is, use examples to explain that not every kid grows up having a life like theirs. Keep the comparison out of the conversation at all times.
Teach them where basic necessities come from
Take water or milk for example. Kids only know that we buy them from the store. How do these items get to the store? Milk reaches your child’s glass after a long journey. The farmer raises a cow and milks her. Someone else packages it. It is transported all the way to the city and to the stores. You buy the milk and bring it home, and then pour it into your child’s glass.
Simplify the story based on how young your little one is.
We don’t need a particular day to be thankful about the little things but Thanksgiving is definitely a great day to start teaching your children about it.