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Thanksgiving Activities: Teaching Children about Thankfulness

Organizing Thanksgiving activities for your kids is an excellent way to begin teaching them about thankfulness.  Gratitude can be a hard lesson to comprehend for little ones because they live a very self-centered existence.  Let’s face it, even some adults struggle with this concept!  In the infancy stage, the world revolves around your baby and she has little regard for others’ needs, desires or feelings.  As she gets older, however, it’s important to help her explore the many wonderful ways she fits into the world.  And thus – the lesson of thankfulness truly begins.

Happy BabyOf course the first way most parents begin to teach gratitude is by repetition of the words “thank you.”  This means that parents model the behavior, thanking everyone around them when appropriate, including thanking the child.  Once your baby is able to communicate via sign language or words, you can encourage the behavior by ensuring your little one signs or says the words in every reasonable instance.  It will slowly become a habit, and you’ll be off to a great start!

There are many more ways to reinforce thankfulness than by simply showing appreciation for small gestures and having good manners.  Taking time, especially around the holidays, to do Thanksgiving activities, can be a terrific way for children to grasp the concept and put it into action.

One of the easiest activities is to talk about why you are thankful.  Start by giving some examples of your own and then ask your child how she is thankful.  You may get some silly responses, but keep in mind, your child’s world is still so small and showing gratitude for the small things is a step in the right direction.  Next help your child see the bigger picture. Explain how being thankful for bananas shows that they also appreciate that they have enough food to eat, are thankful for farmers who grow crops and the earth for helping us get the nutrition we need to stay healthy.  Teach them how thankfulness for their toys even helps us learn new information and skills so we will be smart, resourceful and good problem-solvers.  You can also have your children make art projects, such as a collage, calendar or photo journal from their list of thankful things.

Encourage your children to thank people in their life personally, either by telling them directly or creating cards to express their feelings.  Take the lesson a step further by helping them perform acts of gratitude and pay their good fortune forward.  This can include thanking people who indirectly make their lives better, such as making cards or care packages for the troops, local police officers and fire fighters, or helping those who are less fortunate by donating gently used toys. When your kids are old enough, do fun family volunteer activities like environmental projects or lending a hand at an animal shelter.  This generosity will serve your children well throughout their lives.

We hope you and your family enjoy some of these fun and useful Thanksgiving activities during your holiday week.  Remember, even small lessons will enrich your little ones’ lives and start them on a path to having good manners, being altruistic and showing gratitude towards others.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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