3 Ways to a Grateful Kid

Cynthia Dermody

Holiday Entertaining Guide

gap-toothed kid

Photo by JSVDP

Experts are always sending me stuff hoping for a spot in the Daily Buzz, and I usually just ignore them because the advice I get from the moms here is so much better.

But I recently came across this little "how-to" from Kansas State University child development expert Chuck Smith that I thought was pretty good.

He suggests three simple ways to teach your kids to be thankful. With Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, I know this is on all our minds. (I, for one, am really tired of reminding my 6 year old to say thank you after a nice gesture or when someone gives him a gift. Is there a point when autopilot kicks in?)

As we all know, telling kids to be thankful just doesn't work. You have to show them, and hope your good modeling rubs off. I liked Smith's three simple and real suggestions on how to do that ...

1. Donate to a local food pantry.

Make an afternoon cleaning out your cabinets and scouring the shelves at the grocery store. The parent and child should make a list of the foods to get. When the family takes the food to the pantry the child should be the one to hand deliver it, with the parents there to provide support, Smith said. Talk about it at dinner. "Say, 'Maybe, just maybe, there is someone who is eating the food we brought today.'"

2. Donate used toys or games to a local women's shelter or emergency shelter instead of selling them.

This is an opportunity to involve the child in making decisions about what others might like to be given, Smith said. All items to be donated should be in good condition and games should have all of their pieces. "After the toys are chosen and delivered, parents can talk to their children about the child who is now playing with this toy who might not have had any other toys," Smith said.

3. Draw or paint pictures for sick children, soldiers or others.

Holidays away from home and family can be particularly difficult for those who are sick or who are deployed. A heartfelt picture from a child can deliver a much-needed emotional boost, Smith said. Talking about this not only gets children thinking about the sacrifices made by others, by also gets them to consider what sorts of things they can do to help make that person's life a little bit brighter.

Are your children thankful for all they have, or could they use a little dose of gratitude? How do you teach your children to be grateful?


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