Teaching Gratitude to Your Toddler or Preschooler

By Sherlyne Fletcher

GRATITUDE:  Being aware of and thankful for the good things that happen; taking time to express thankfulness; showing appreciation.

Teaching gratitude in children is very import for increasing positive emotion and helping them to focus and be thankful for what they have rather than what they don’t have.

A few tips to help practise, cultivate and nurture gratitude:

  • Teach manners. This helps children understand that they are not entitled to anything.  It helps show appreciation for everything.
  • Always end the day on a positive note, have a gratitude huddle before bedtime to reflect on the good things.
  • Give your child(ren) a platform to talk about something they are grateful for or appreciate. This can be a little tricky at first, so plenty of support and role modelling may be needed to get the ball rolling. For example, your child(ren) may be thankful for something at school, thankful that a friend asked to play, or thankful for something at home. This is a great dinner discussion!
  • Get your child to name three good things everyday that they are thankful for no matter what kind of day they’ve had.  Focus on the positive.  Ask what they can do to help make someone else have that same positive feeling (“pay it forward” skill building).  Talk about how these acts of kindness make them feel inside.
  • Volunteer.  Take your children to help those who are less fortunate.
  • Donate.  Take your children with you to drop off a donation.
  • Writing your gratitude.  Send a letter, note, or drawing to a friend or family member to show your gratitude for them.
  • Gratitude jar. Encourage your child to add the jar, if he or she needs your help you can scribe what they’ve said and have them add it to the jar.
  • Teach savoring. Model taking a pause and being in the moment.

Practising gratitude fosters and increases your child’s optimism, sense of empathy, kindness and positive emotions.

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