Teaching Children About Gratitude

By Emily Yosmanovich –
Director, Trinity Preschool of McLean

Children at Trinity Preschool of McLean, practicing gratitude and fine motor skills by harvesting sunflower seeds for food and replanting.

Gratitude is an acknowledgement of the blessings, both great and small, that contribute to our situation in life. When a person invites gratitude into their mindset, the benefits of resilience, confidence, and overall happiness will abound. Of course, we all want our children to receive these benefits, and in turn, often parents will start with teaching basic “please” and “thank you” manners to their children at a young age. When we teach our children to say “thank you,” following the receipt of kindness, we are teaching only a small seed of potential gratitude. So what more can we do for our children to nurture the seed and watch it grow into a beautiful flowering tree?

The most important factor toward developing any life skill in a child is modeling it yourself. Children imitate what they observe. Hold yourself accountable to how grateful you are towards people and situations around you, especially as your child is watching. As local authors Catherine McCarthy, MD; Heather Tedesco, PhD; and Jennifer Weaver, LCSW suggest in their new book, Raising a Kid Who Can, practice the “think aloud” strategy by verbalizing your gratitude so that it is evident to your child. For example, in the car, rather than giving in to road frustrations, you might allow someone to cut in front of you and say aloud, “It really wasn’t that car’s turn, but it seems like they’re in a hurry and it will be kind to let them in front of us. I’m thankful we’re all safe and everyone will get where they need to go eventually.” It may seem unnatural to many of us, but verbalizing this kind of thought could very well inspire your child to think about the plight of others and be more grateful for their own situation.

Here are two fun activities to try together with your child to nurture gratitude:

Latest from Instagram