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Raise Thankful Kids

5 Steps to Having Kids Who are Thankful for Everyone and Everything

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Raise thankful kids who will turn into compassionate adults. Your children will be grateful for what they have and empathetic to others around them.

1. Start With Manners

A picture of the words thank you
Photo © Apryl Duncan
To raise thankful kids, you have to start with three little words. "Please" and "thank you."

Teach kids to say "please" and "thank you" at every opportunity. When your preschooler demands juice, help her rephrase the sentence to, "May I have more juice, please?" When you give her the cup, make sure she says, "Thank you."

Not only is this a good lesson in manners, it also helps her to learn to be thankful for others. In this case, she's thankful for you.

2. Encourage Thank You Cards

A picture of a boy writing a thank you card
Photo © Apryl Duncan
Sending thank you notes is another important step to having thankful kids. A gift from grandma. A visit from a friend. There's always an opportunity to send a special thank you note.

Even if your child is too young to write, she can still send her own version of a thank you card. Let her draw a picture or record a special message. The earlier you start her down the road to sending thank you notes, the more thankful she'll be and the more natural sitting down to write a thank you card will become.

3. Don't Wait Until the Holidays

A picture of kids sitting around the family table
Photo © Oakley Originals / Flickr
You may have an annual tradition of going around the table at Thanksgiving and letting each person say what she's thankful for this year. It's a fun way to hear what's on your kids' minds.

It's also a valuable exercise for parents who want to raise thankful kids. Instead of making this an annual tradition, though, make it a weekly or nightly ritual. Record what your kids have to say in a thankful journey to remind all of you what each child was thankful for on specific dates.

4. Help Kids Give to Others

A picture of a mom and her child volunteering
Photo © Brand X Pictures / Getty Images
Everyday events present themselves as opportunities to help you raise thankful kids. From major stories in the news, such as people affected by a natural disaster, to local children who won't be able to have toys at Christmas, these unfortunate situations draw out sympathy from your kids.

They may not understand the emotions they're feeling but they know they want to do something. This is where you can step in to guide them so that they can help others, strengthen their character and be thankful for what they have.

Volunteer with them at a local organization. Get involved to help people affected by natural disasters. There's always a call for donations to babies and children who are left without essentials like diapers but have also lost all of their toys.

5. Show Them You're Thankful

A picture of kids looking up
Photo © Marzanna Syncerz / Fotolia
Do you thank the cashier in the drive-through line, even though she's a teenager? How about the guy who opens the door for you and your children?

It's easy to be so involved in trying to keep your kids in line that we simply forget to say thanks to someone else. Children learn by watching. And if you're not showing thanks, to them or to others, the lessons won't truly sink in. After all, you are the best role model your kids will ever have.

If you want to raise a thankful child, always remember each lesson is ongoing. She'll always be a work in progress, growing to become a thankful adult who will one day teach her own child the valuable lessons you've taught her every step of the way.
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