Teaching Children Gratitude With Creative Thanksgiving Prompts
"Tell your Aunt Claire thank you, Brittney." Obediently, She shyly whispers a thank you and steps back behind her mother's protective shadow for comfort. Her mother repeats the murmured words and smiles down at her little girl. Meanwhile, Brittney wonders why it is so important that she say these words to her aunt.
Can you remember when you started to express your gratitude to people? Most of us learn to say thank you at an early age but understanding for communicating our actions may be acquired later in life.
As parents we can help our child to cultivate thankfulness early so that it comes naturally as they mature. Emotionally, gratitude helps one to differentiate between wants and needs, leads to feelings of empathy, and helps us see life positively. The gratitude or thank you prompts listed in this article will encourage children to express appreciation on their own. If a child is directed to think of others on his or her own it is more likely to have a lasting impact. As Zig Ziglar once said "Of all the attitudes we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing."
Gratitude With A Purpose
Gratitude is a virtue that allows us to focus on the other person's well being rather than our own. It takes the emphasis from us and casts it upon the receiving individual. It is an opportunity to show sincere appreciation to those who have given freely to us.
Being thankful requires humility. When giving thanks, it is humbling and one realizes how vulnerable they are at the moment. One develops a selfless soul and develops the quality of a contrite spirit when they foster this desirable quality.
There are so many words to express your feelings to someone, but truly what strikes the heart is a simple 'thank you'. Upon hearing those two words, people may melt, cry, feel relief, or change their entire attitude. It is almost magical!
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What is the best way to teach children gratitude?
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Enhancing Family Meal Time
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Family dinner time is a great time to bond with your children. Healthy eating patterns can be encouraged through role modeling and positive encouragement.
As we gather for the Thanksgiving meal, families have different methods of expressing thanks for the year's blessings. Besides saying grace, often people are encouraged to say a word or two at the table expressing their gratitude for things such as friends, jobs, or family. And many of us at are a loss for words. So we can only imagine how difficult it may be for children to convey their thoughts of appreciation.
Here are a few suggestions that will help children to communicate thankfulness easily:
- Have children make name cards for everyone. They can list one or two things they associate with that person. For example: Uncle Mike: Gives me hugs, likes to laugh.
- Create simple place cards and decorate them with stickers, drawings, or stamped images. They can use these to help people think of things for which they are thankful (pets, food, home, etc.). Individuals can use these prompts to express their thanks.
- Use decorated index cards to write notes of appreciation to family and friends. Children need to only write simple words or brief sentence to convey their gratitude: Thanks for giving me piggy back rides, You make the best peanut butter sandwiches, You are nice. Younger children can draw pictures or use stickers on the cards instead. These can be given to people as they come to dinner.
- Place-mats are always fun for children to make and it is easy for them to write upon or create drawings. They can be customized for individuals or just general prompt statements for anyone to use when it comes their turn to express thanks.
The prompt cards featured below are made from basic material such as index cards, die-cut shapes, name cards, notepads and paint sample cards. They can be easily decorated with stickers, stamp images, and stencils. I'm sure families can think of other ways to use these prompt cards to make thanksgiving memorable. There is little cost and effort in creating the prompts but the message is priceless.
Suggestions and IdeasClick thumbnail to view full-size
Suggestions For Prompt Cards & Notes
Prompt Card List
Car - Transporation
God - Faith
Earth - Nature
Love and other positive emotions
Gratitude Instills Character & Virtues For Life
Funny Thank You Card Clip
You Reap What You Sow
Writing notes of thanks comes easy as an adult and is a means of sharing your intimate thoughts and sentiments of appreciation. Generally, people feel really good about themselves and increase their levels of happiness when they express gratitude. The conscious focus on gratitude may also remind you of unassuming pluses that get lost in the ups and downs of a busy life. What's more, gratitude turns your attention to what you do have instead of what you don't. (source: Philip Watkins, Psychologytoday.com, 11/2013)
With this in mind, just think about how much more your child will benefit from early training in gratitude. Knowing how to easily gives thanks will increase your child's overall well-being and lead to a positive lifestyle.
And so I am thankful and glad, and I feel completely secure. Psalm 16:9 (GNTD)