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Encouraging Thankfulness In Children

thankfulness in children

I remember quite clearly being twelve, my mother had been in hospital for a long time. A family from school had been helping to care for my brother and I after school and overnight. So too had a neighbour who had lost her own young son, and whom we had only just met. An unexpected visit home from hospital brought my mother, stepfather, brother and I to the house of some wonderfully kind friends for Christmas, where we all opened Christmas gifts which had somehow made it to their house.

In amongst all the excitement of present unwrapping, both my brother and I were gifted hand knitted dolls, a girl and a boy, from our great grandmother, Nanna. These gifts were wonderful, even at the ages of nearly twelve and nearly ten. Our friend’s children felt less satisfied with their gifts and complained about the colours, the sizes and that things weren’t exactly what they had asked for at all.

Since becoming a parent, I have often pondered and have asked my own Mamma, how did she raise us to be appreciative, for us not to question gifts and to be so very thankful for what we were given? Some days, when I feel my own four children are less than appreciative of what we as parents help them with, but are also not quite so tolerant of their own siblings or of what other families struggle with on a day to day basis, it makes me question even more so how my own mother raise us to be thankful? There is a world’s difference between being able to say thank you and being thankful.

Encouraging children to count their blessings can mean that they feel happier about life in general, that they have greater self-esteem, hope and optimism; and moreover more positive attitudes towards school and family in general.

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How do we encourage thankfulness?

  • Be a grateful parent & show kindness
    Modelling warm and sincere ‘thank yous’ for presents we are given as adults, or acting as spokesperson for our little people in the same way. They are watching us practice this and it all goes in! Next year, they may be able to confidently voice it for themselves and absolutely melt all our hearts. If we too engage in acts of kindness, then our children will spontaneously do the same. Telling them that we notice when they are doing so shows them how much we value their kindness.
  • Encourage empathy
    Help them to understand that a present was a truly considered gift and how much thought the giver would have put into it – pointing out how the colours of a friendship bracelet were chosen because they were a favourite. Show them how much thought others put into a gift because they are loved or thought highly of. Think about giving a gift that shows how much thought you have put into it, for example a sewing box with neatly folded thread, pieces of felt and a few buttons.
  • Promote sharing with others
    Recognise that for many families, life is very different. Suggesting that they choose items from the cupboard to donate to food banks, or help list and choose items in the supermarket that might be useful to the local homeless lunch club. Fostering a sense of community and helping locally so that the ripples may spread.
  • Think about how sometimes having less is more:
    Using the crayons or the drawing book we have before hankering after another can be a really hard concept sometimes for our little people. But if we model how to make the best use of the things we have or if we play alongside them to show the different ways existing toys or everyday items can be used to make a new game, then our children are more likely to be content.
  • Spend time in nature:
    Slow down, breathe, talk and be mindful. At a slower pace, it is easier to appreciate those who we are with and the world around us. There is a sense of something bigger than we are and a sense of awe and wonder in nature which encourages us to be humble and thankful.
  • Give up your time for others:
    You only have to talk to your little ones for a short time to know that most of them have an inherently strong passion for a worthy cause. Whether it be animals, the environment or a children’s charity. Support and encourage them in their fundraising however small – there are so many age appropriate ways out there of getting involved.
  • Name your blessings & Look for the silver lining:
    Encourage them to name their blessings and suggest looking for the things we are lucky to have and can be thankful for each day – on the way home from school share three things which were good about the day, keep a gratitude journal, or collectively begin to contribute to a shared family jar of blessings and things to then be shared / read out towards the end of the next coming year.

Encouraging a spoonful of gratefulness does not have to cost anything or be time consuming. If we are able to make gratitude a part of our daily lives , then our children will naturally follow suit.
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car
games
Motorcar
movies
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Scienceandtechnology
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Loseweight
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Abadgirl
appetite
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Sarah McArdell

I am Sarah, a primary school teacher turned mostly stay at home mamma to four little ones (except for popping out to teach antenatal classes, which I have a passion for). We bumble along in beautiful chaos coupled with a good sprinkling of my desire for storage solutions and all things organised. You'll usually find me exploring and contemplating the things which make me tick: vegetarianism, homebirthing, babywearing, bedsharing, attachment parenting, growing our own veggies and loving owning chickens!

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