Teaching Our Children to be Thankful

thankful2Sometimes it seems as if our young people feel so entitled that they fail to be appreciative.  On Halloween, for example, I had some kids come to my door and they just stuck out their bags without a “Trick or Treat” or a “Thank You,” almost as if I owed them candy.  I’ve had young adults walk right in front of me in a parking lot without even acknowledging that I was stopping for them, much less did they wave a thanks for the courtesy.  I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences  with a lack of politeness.

Now, I admit, my children do need to be prompted for manner from time to time, but saying thank you is something we started to teach our kids before they could even say the words – signing thank you with their hands!  I am realizing that this sense of gratefulness is not innate but taught and so I thought coming up with some ways to teach my children appreciation would be a good idea, particularly with Thanksgiving this week.

  1.  Be a good example!   Thank your spouse when he passes the ketchup or mows the lawn.  Thank your friend for bringing your child thankfulhome from school.  Thank your mom for watching the kids so you could run an errand.
  2. Expect courtesy.  Don’t let kiddos just walk away from a good deed done for them without recognizing it.  When they forget, give a little prompt.  “Do you have any manners?” is my favorite reminder.
  3. Have your children write thank you notes for gifts received.  If they are too young to write it themselves, have them dictate to you.  The grandparents will love an original kid thank you, rather than a generic parent-written one.
  4. Let the kids see you give little notes and cards to those you really appreciate, like teachers, priests, and neighbors!
  5. Thank your children!  Thank them even for little things or chore that they are expected to do.  Once they realize how good it feels to be appreciated, they will want to do it too.
  6. Point out all the blessings you may have – family, food, health, friends – so they see that some people are less fortunate than they are.
  7. Thank God – in your prayers, in your actions, in your daily life!

How do you teach your children how to be thankful?

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