How to Teach Thankfulness to Young Children: A Guide for Parents | Celebree School

The early years of a child’s life are crucial for their holistic growth. This is a time when they are learning about the world around them and forming their beliefs and values. As such, it is important for parents to instill positive values in their young children. One of these is thankfulness.

Multiple studies have shown that learning gratitude at a young age has long-term benefits. First, thankfulness is linked to well-being. It can have long-lasting effects on mental health and behavior. Second, thankful children are more likely to have positive relationships that contribute to their happiness and sense of fulfillment. Finally, gratitude can help children achieve academic and social success.

It’s no wonder that gratitude education is a top priority for three out of every four parents, according to a 2021 poll conducted by the University of Michigan. However, four in five parents worry that children today are not grateful for what they have. If you’re a parent who wants to instill a spirit of gratitude in your children but doesn’t know where to start, here are a few tips:

Model thankfulness yourself

When it comes to raising grateful children, parents definitely play a pivotal role. After all, children are like sponges during the early years, soaking up everything they see and hear. If you model thankfulness and express appreciation regularly, your child will likely do the same.

Encourage your child to express thankfulness

Encourage your child to express thanks when they receive something nice from another person. This could be a gift or something as simple as an invitation to a playdate. Help them to verbalize their appreciation by saying something like, “It’s so wonderful that you got such a nice present from Grandma!” Or, “You must be so happy that your friend invited you to play today!” 

Explain the importance of thankfulness

Talking about the benefits of being thankful will help your child understand them. For instance, you could say, “We are happier when we are thankful for what we have,” or “It’s nice to be thankful for our friends because it helps us maintain our friendships.” Your child will be more likely to practice being thankful if they understand its value.

Praise your child when they display thankfulness

When your child expresses thankfulness, be sure to commend them. This will reinforce the behavior and show them that it is something you appreciate. For example, you could say “I’m proud of you for thanking John when he gave you that toy” or “Good job on writing Aunt Mary a thank-you note—that was thoughtful of you.” 

Use everyday opportunities to teach about thankfulness

Take advantage of any chance you have to teach your child gratitude. For example, you can have them help you with a chore and tell them how thankful you are for their help. Or you can have a conversation with them about a time when someone did something kind for you, such as when a stranger opened a door for you or a friend cooked you a delicious meal, and how that made you feel.

Helping your child develop a grateful heart will serve them well throughout their life. At Celebree School, our early child care centers on the concept of community. And so, we believe that kids learning gratitude—appreciating even the little things in life and being considerate of others—is a big step towards developing a love for community. For more tips on raising healthy, happy, thoughtful children who will grow into contributing members of society, please feel free to explore our website.