Children need to learn how to give and receive, and this learning begins in infancy...a child gives a smile and receives an endearing flow of loving responses. Children very early on begin to understand the reciprocity of relationships. These relationships become embedded in the spirit of the child, and manifest themselves in their developing values and character. Raising thankful children does not begin with an activity of "doing" or gift giving; it is rooted in the empathic relationships developed during infancy, which are carried on throughout life.
As children grow and develop, the ability to be thankful is reinforced by the little things that we as parents, teachers, and supportive adults model...How do WE model thankfulness, gratitude and empathy towards others? How do we help our children see the gifts of life in our everyday living?
Our children are flooded with things--stuff, gifts, whatever we call it-- and it is often too much. Most of us have experienced a moment with our own children when, amidst a field of expensive toys, the child prefers a cardboard box. The simplest gifts are the best. A famous early childhood educator name Alice Honig said "children need to lean!" They need to lean on the adults in their lives…physically and emotionally. The adults in their lives are the most important "objects" in the world for our children...they need the gift of your shoulder, lap or hand (and not the hand with the cell phone in it - cynicism!). Children need you 100% and they are thankful for that!
Simple things to do that facilitate thankfulness:
- Model gratitude and thankfulness from the heart
- Find a balance between giving and overindulging children....Children need to experience the "rites of passage"...beware of too much too soon
- Families can get involved in the community with children....Model "giving back" for them and with them
- Show your thankfulness
- Write thank you notes and have children draw thank you pictures
- Help children develop a vocabulary of thankful words
- OF COURSE...read books that represent thankfulness
- Develop a family culture of thankfulness and gratitude
Be sure to watch NewsChannel 5 at Noonthis Friday (11/26) for our discussion on raising thankful children.
Post by Stephen Zwolak