Teaching Children to Give Thanks

By Barbara Danza, Epoch Times
November 26, 2019 Updated: November 26, 2019

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, centered on the gathering of family and friends and the giving of thanks. It’s the perfect prelude to the holidays to come, reminding us of what’s most important.

From a parenting perspective, Thanksgiving comes chock-full of “teachable moments.” Here are six ways to instill an appreciation for gratitude and a desire to give thanks this Thanksgiving.

Draw Turkey Hands

For the littlest turkeys, this familiar craft couldn’t be simpler. Trace your little one’s hand on a piece of paper, and as I’m sure you know, the thumb becomes the head, the fingers the feathers, and the palm the body of an adorable turkey.

Drive home the concept of giving thanks by having your child (or you if they’re really young) write four things they’re thankful for on each of the turkey’s feathers. Then, give their artwork a place of honor amid your Thanksgiving decor.

‘Grow’ a Thankful Tree

Feeling even more crafty? Place a few branches in a vase or pin a paper tree trunk to the wall, accompanied by a basket or jar of cut-out paper leaves. Attach the leaves each day inscribed with something you are grateful for. As each family member does this daily, watch your tree fill in with blessings. What a wonderful symbol come Thanksgiving of the season at hand!

mother and daughter hugging
“Thank you” doesn’t always have to be verbal—about a hug? (Shutterstock)

Start a Gratitude Journal

Encourage a habit for yourself and your family of beginning each day with an entry in a gratitude journal. Simply name (or draw) three things each day that you are thankful for. Aim to continue this habit for as long as possible and enjoy the positive impact it has on your lives.

Say ‘Thank You’

Strengthen the habit of giving thanks, and recognizing all there is to be grateful for, by challenging each family member to thank someone else every day until Thanksgiving. A small gift, a handwritten note, a text, a hug, or a simple, verbal “thanks” can all be employed to show gratitude toward someone else for something they did or simply for who they are to you.

Bless Someone Else

Teach your children the ideals of charity by giving to someone in need. Whether it’s a local family going through a hard time, visitors to a soup kitchen, beneficiaries of a charitable organization, or a lonesome family member or friend, there are countless people who could use something to be thankful for.

Give of your time, your resources, or simply your compassion to someone else in need. Celebrate how truly blessed you are by sharing that bounty with others this season.

Give Gratitude at Bedtime

Perhaps the simplest way of all to establish a habit of gratitude, as you tuck your children into bed, ask them what they were grateful for today. Allow them time to think of all of the things they were thankful for and let those ideas linger as you kiss them goodnight.

How fortunate that we have this opportunity to teach gratitude to our children and that we have so very much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for Thanksgiving and wish you and your family a happy one!

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza