In an “I want” and “what about me?” world, it can be challenging to raise an appreciative child.
In honour of Thanksgiving, here are some ideas on how to raise an appreciative child throughout the lifespan.
The Preschool Years
1. Create a thank-you. When your young kids receive gifts, they should be expected to create and send a thank-you picture or short note within one day (or at the rate of one or two thank-you’s per day).
2. Be polite to Mr. Bear. Role-play using good manners and saying “thank you” using stuffed animals and action figures.
3. Pick your top 3. At dinner or bedtime, take turns sharing the three best things about your day.
4. Model. Model giving thanks and gratitudes.
5. Make a different kind of gift list. Write down the things (preferably handmade) your preschoolers would like to give friends and family as holiday gifts.
The Elementary Years
1. Hand-write thank-you’s. One sentence per grade is a good rule of thumb, and be sure to send them out promptly.
2. Make a gratitude jar. Fill it with short handwritten notes of gratitude. Pick a special time to pull out notes at random and read them aloud.
3. Say thank-you with cookies. Prepare and deliver a homemade “thank you” to your local fire or police department, or your pediatrician’s or dentist’s office.
4. Make it stick. Leave sticky notes for each family member to thank them for something you appreciate.
5. Celebrate your year. Every birthday, make a list of things you are grateful for that year. A 5-year-old can think of five things, while a 10-year-old can manage at least 10.
The Middle School Years
1. Get it on video. Make a thank-you video for someone who gave you a gift or showed you a kindness. Saying thank you is always important, but it’s OK to think beyond the note.
2. Make a plan. Research a service project, and make a plan to execute it. Invite others to join in.
3. Create a gratitude photo book. Using a smart phones (or a plain old camera, or magazines), gather photos of the things you’re thankful for.
4. Help out without being asked. Make it a goal to do so once a day — and for any member of the family.
5. Give a gift card. Save up money to purchase a gift card (grocery store, gas card, etc.) for a person in need.
The High School Years
1. Thank a teacher or coach. Send a handwritten note to let him know how much his efforts make a difference.
2. Volunteer a Saturday. Think food pantry or animal shelter, and try to make it a regular commitment.
3. Go back to school. Donate your time to your old elementary or middle school and let your former teachers and coaches know how much they helped you.
4. Create a new family gratitude ritual. Make it something you can continue when you’re on your own.
5. Pay it forward in the drive-thru lane. Use your own money to pay for someone else’s meal.
Source: “Get grateful! 20 ways to teach kids gratitude, from tots to teens”