Teaching Your Toddler to be Thankful
The toddler years are a time in a child’s development when he is learning that he isn’t the only person in his universe. At this stage in his social development, you need to teach him how to be thankful as he begins to become socially aware of others. If you begin this process when he is two or three years old, you’ll be more likely to have success, rather than a spoiled child who is unruly and unappreciative by the time he starts kindergarten. Here are some ways to teach your toddler how to be grateful.
Start by teaching your child to say “please” and “thank you” when she wants or receives something. This concept will introduce being thankful to your toddler. Also, set aside a time each day, preferably during dinner, when each member of your family tells what he or she is thankful for. While your toddler may be unsure of what she is thankful for at first, after hearing other older members of your family state their thanks each day, she’ll begin to understand the concept of gratitude.
Practice What You Preach
Even though you want to teach your toddler to be thankful, you may not be showing gratitude yourself. Set an example for your toddler, who is absorbing new information like a sponge. Show kindness to others, remember to tell others “thank you,” and show gratitude to your toddler, too. Tell him every day how thankful you are for him, give frequent hugs, and tell him you love him. Your child will begin by mimicking your actions, and over time, he’ll come to connect the feelings of being thanked and giving thanks.
Teach your toddler to be grateful for receiving gifts by cutting back on them. For instance, stop giving your toddler a treat or gift every time you go to the store or just for doing what is expected of her, such as sitting quietly in church service or during library story time. Instead, give your toddler quality time with you, such as spending an hour at the local park or going for a walk together when she behaves appropriately. Limit gifts to special occasions or for rewards established for long-term goals, such as learning to successfully use the potty. Find ways to teach your toddler to be thankful by giving to others. Volunteer at a local food bank, humane society, or some other organization that is age appropriate for bringing your toddler along. Other ways of giving include visiting an elderly neighbor or family member and bringing a dessert that was baked by you and your toddler.
Limiting unnecessary gifts may be difficult for you and your toddler initially, but over time your child will learn to be thankful when he does receive a gift. Also, he will learn how to find gratitude through giving to others. Your child will develop his self-confidence without depending on materialism to make himself happy, a gift that will benefit him for the rest of his life.