As the firstborn and the first grandkid on both my side and my husband’s, Callum has been showered with love, attention, and a ridiculous amount of gifts since he was in utero. He’s happy, he’s healthy, and has nothing to complain about. (Unless I peel his banana or open his applesauce for him. Then I better make way for the toddler wrath.)
I’m so thankful for everything I am able to give my son, and for everything that others have given him. Still, I worry every day that he is going to grow up to take that for granted. How do I stop my son from turning into a Veruca Salt?
So, I did what I always do and turned to some wiser, more experienced moms for advice. Here are some of the best ideas I found for teaching kids about gratitude. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, there’s no better time than now to start teaching our kids to be thankful.
Make a Thanksgiving Tree
Use paper to create a large tree trunk and branches to hang on your wall. Cut out leaves and have your kids write down what they are thankful for on the leaves. You can encourage your kids to continue filling out leaves all month. The tree is a good daily visual reminder for everyone in the family.
Write Thank Yous
This one seems so obvious, but when was the last time you had your child write a thank you for something that wasn’t a birthday or Christmas gift? Have your kids make a small gift or card to those you want to show appreciation: teachers, mail carriers, neighbors, etc. Remind them that you don’t need a special occasion to express your gratitude.
From potty training to sharing, books have always been one of my favorite ways of showing something to Callum instead of just telling. While reading the books, try to relate the story to things happening in your life. Here are some of the best books I found for teaching about giving thanks.
Thankful | The Blessings Jar | I’m Thankful Each Day!
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks | Thank you, Mr. Falker
30 Days of Giving Thanks
Starting a month before Thanksgiving (or whenever you’d like), every night at dinner have everyone in the family write down one thing they are thankful for on a small piece of paper. Put them all in a large jar without reading them. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, or at the end of the 30 days, go through the jar and share what everyone has written. Doing this every day for a few weeks will encourage your little ones to be thinking about what they’re thankful for each day.
Lead by Example
It is never too early to show your kids the importance of giving to others. Whether it’s making something special for a sick friend or volunteering at a local food pantry, kids will learn by watching you do it. So, get out and give back!
Most importantly, even if they’re on their tenth tantrum of the day, don’t forget to tell your children how grateful you are for them!