Every year as Thanksgiving arrives, we take time to reflect on the things that make our lives great. At NMS during Circle or Group Time, children discuss what they are most thankful for this year. We often hear such things as favorite toys, pets, family members or their homes, which are all wonderful things for young children to appreciate.
Teaching children gratitude can extend beyond the holiday season and into everyday life. When children have a chance to reflect and appreciate all that they have throughout the year, it makes them even more appreciative of the special gifts they might receive during the holidays. Below is a brief list of age-appropriate activities that can be incorporated into your family’s life to help your child continue growing as a grateful, empathetic, well-rounded child. The possibilities are endless when helping your child learn and develop this important life skill.
Work gratitude into daily conversation – Role play with your child saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’
Have them help around the house when applicable – See this link for age appropriate chores
Encourage generosity – donate toys; this can be especially fun to do before birthdays or gift-giving holidays
Write thank you notes together – have your child draw a picture and you write out the card for them
Practice saying ‘no’ – this makes the times when ‘yes’ is said even sweeter and helps children appreciate each gift more
Read together – find books that focus on gratitude. Here is a link to some great examples.
Have your child pitch in when s/he wants to buy something – helping with an additional task around the house or by using allowance to help contribute to the gift.
Write thank you notes together – when appropriate, have your child write and color a picture to send
Set an example by saying ‘thank you’ sincerely and often to them and others in your life
Encourage a thoughtful daily discussion about the best part of your day and your child’s – this can be done at dinner time or before bed
Make giving and volunteering a family habit all year – not just during the holidays
Read together – find books that focus on giving. Here is a link to some great examples.
Bake for a neighbor, someone who is sick, or someone special, just because!
Gratitude Journal – you can include prompts, do it as a family, or introduce it as an independent activity
Gratitude Activity Jar – make a list of things your child is thankful for, then create an activity to go along with it. Fill a jar with the activities and pull them out every now and then.
Regular Service Projects – these are great to do as a family. As your child gets older, have him/her research and plan which projects to take on.
Sticky Notes of Thanks – family members can leave sticky notes around the house thanking each other for something they appreciate.
Write thank you notes or make a short video to send
Birthday List of Thanks – On their birthday, have them make a list of things they are grateful for – 6 things when 6, 10 things when 10, etc.
We would love to be able to add to this list! If you have had success using another activity with your family, please share it below by adding a comment.
Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Katie Hamill, Primary Division Leader