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Teaching toddlers thankfulness is one of the trickiest habits to teach toddlers and preschoolers, who are by nature self-centered, but one of the most important. Sure, thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there's much more to it than that.
By learning thankfulness, children become aware, and even sensitive to the feelings of others around them, while developing empathy and other behavioral life skills along the way. Thankful kids look outside their one-person universe and learn to recognize and understand when other people do things for them.
To show our thanks last year, we created Rustic Clothespin Christmas Ornaments for the school staff and school administration at our school to thank them for everything they do for our students.
5 Tips for Teaching Toddlers Thankfulness
There are easy ways for you to demonstrate to your little ones the skill of thankfulness, kindness and generosity. Here are 5 tips for teaching toddlers thankfulness everyday.
- Be a grateful parent. Tell your children why you're grateful to have them. Yes, we love our kids and we're thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, so much more, and when we tell them what makes them special to us, their self-esteem is boosted for the right reasons.
- Keep thank you notes on hand. Encourage kids to thank teachers at the end of the school year, Little League coaches, ballet teachers, helpful librarians, and families who host them for overnights or parties. There are loads of opportunities throughout the year for kids to recognize and thank those who have done something special for them, and it's a habit that if they start young, they'll naturally carry throughout life.
- Set a good example by saying ‘thank you' often. There are countless opportunities to model gratitude throughout a day — for example, thanking the waitress who serves your food, the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store, the teller at the bank who cashes your check. When our kids see us expressing sincere thanks all the time, they'll be more inclined to do so as well.
- Make do with less. Many of us love to spoil our children, but when kids come to expect ‘star' treatment they take tend to take life for granted. The cure? Pick something to “do without” for a week, or a month. Try eliminating take-out or restaurant meals, shutting off video games for a week, or holding back on purchasing new toys during weekly shopping trips. These inconveniences will help children appreciate the gifts they receive in the future.
- Create a thankful jar. Let children decorate a jar or basket and place in a common area of the home, like an entry table or kitchen counter.Placing a notepad and pen next to it and have family members write down things for which they are thankful. They can be big things, or small little gestures. During a family meal, have the children pull out the notes and read them together.
To create a simple DIY Thankful Jar:
- Paint the inside of a clean mason jar, let dry.
- Create a tag with the words ‘thank you' or ‘thankful'.
- Secure the tag to the jar with twine or decorative tape.
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