Teaching kids an attitude of gratitude

So many of us enjoy unwrapping gifts so much that we often forget the true spirit of the holiday season.  And so with the holiday season fast approaching, we asked parenting and child development expert Denise Daniels for some simple effective ways parents can teach young children an “attitude of gratitude,” while still instilling the emotional intelligence skills they’ll need to thrive in our ever-changing world.

Here’s what she said:

1. Teach the spirit of giving by taking advantage of teachable moments during the holidays. It’s important to show children that the holidays are not only about receiving, but also about giving. We can teach kids compassion and empathy skills by helping others in need. Reaching out to others sends children a powerful message about giving.

  • Visit a toy store and have your child choose a toy to donate for a child of the same age.
  • Prepare a meal together and deliver it together to a homeless shelter or food bank.
  • Coat drives are a great way to provide warm clothing for those less fortunate during the winter months.
  • A holiday card has special meaning to men and women in the Armed Forces who are thousands of miles away from their families during the holiday season.  Make handmade cards and mail them together at the Post Office.  Giving as a family not only teaches children the value of giving, but that giving can be just as fun as getting.

2.  Lead by example. You can teach children empathy and compassion by modeling those behaviors. Bake cookies together to share with an elderly neighbor.

  • Tell the people around you what makes them special and why they mean so much to you.
  • Hold a family meeting to choose a charity they would like to support
  • Teach young children to say “please” and “thank-you.” For older children, writing thank-you notes shows children how to demonstrate their gratitude to the gift-giver.

3. Give your children face time. Talk to them about the importance of giving and sharing in a meaningful way.

  1. Share your personal stories about giving over the years. Read positive stories about giving that appear on the news or in magazines during the holiday season.
  2. Family activities such as playing board games, baking cookies together and decorating your home for the holidays are all fun activities that showcase the spirit of the season and the importance of family.
  3. Invite a neighbor who is alone to join your family for a meal or for some egg-nog and cookies.

I like these but you might have others. Please feel free to share.


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