Teaching Children Gratitude – November 2013

Thanksgiving is a time of year when we all need to take a moment to reflect on life’s blessings and give thanks. But in this day and age, when so many children have far more than what they need, how can you teach your children to have an attitude of gratitude?

According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers with locations in Milwaukee, Mequon, Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa, “It’s important to remember that a sense of gratitude doesn’t come naturally. We need to help children develop this important quality and remember that our day-to-day actions speak louder than words.”

“It is critical to serve as a positive role model for your children when working to instill a sense of gratitude in them. If you take everything for granted, your children are bound to as well. Likewise, if you show appreciation, they too will learn a sense of appreciation for the little things in life.”
Anderson says that there are several things you can do in your home, your neighborhood, and your community to make a difference in the way your children see the world.

At Home
According to Anderson, “As soon as your children begin to speak, you should be encouraging them to say please and thank you.”

She also says that you should take time every day to show gratitude to your children. Thank them for helping you. Show appreciation for good behavior, and recognize when your children put forth extra effort. Soon you will have your children trying harder to please you and feeling better about themselves in the process.

Finally, Anderson says that it’s important to celebrate special days in your family’s life from birthdays and anniversaries to Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.

“All these occasions are the perfect way to take time out from our hectic lives to let others know how grateful we are to have them in our lives and why they are so special to us.”

In Your Neighborhood
Anderson suggests that when a new family moves into your neighborhood, you and your children bake them a treat, and then go over as a family to introduce yourselves. This teaches your children how to be good neighbors and caring individuals.

Another great idea is to have your family help someone in your neighborhood who is elderly, injured, or handicapped and needs some assistance with lawn care or household projects.

“Taking the time to do a few random acts of kindness with your children goes a long way in leaving a lasting impression about all that we have to be grateful for,” says Anderson.

In Your Community
Anderson suggests that families identify one local nonprofit organization that helps those less fortunate to support each year. This could include a homeless shelter, an elderly care facility, or a local food bank. Then, as a family, make it a goal to do something positive for this organization each season.

“Donate the clothes and toys you’ve outgrown, bake treats for the people from this organization, or stop by to visit with these people to show your children first-hand how lucky they are to live the life your family leads. It will be a rewarding experience for your entire family which will instill a real sense of gratitude in your children for years to come.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Teaching Gratitude” on Thursday, November 21, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at their Oak Creek location at 220 West Forest Hill Avenue. Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach toddlers and preschoolers – who are by nature self-centered – but one of the most important. By learning gratitude, children become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way. Come to our November Family Fun Night to learn how to teach your children gratitude as you write out thank you notes, make gratitude turkeys, and create thankful stones with melted crayons. In addition to the activities, you will have the opportunity to enjoy dinner on us! Registration is required. Please call 414-643-5070 to register.