No matter what your calendar says for today, Thanksgiving or not, it’s time for an attitude of gratitude for kids and adults. With just a month to Christmas, it seems fitting that the holiday season starts with the action of being grateful. In the midst of family and friends and all the excitement of the day, we sometimes lose sight of the message, to be thankful.
Saying thank you is one of the easiest things we can do. It costs us nothing and, at the same time, creates powerful bonds between people. It is much more than words, it is an action. It shows we recognize some one else’s efforts on our behalf.
Are there ways we can help children say thank you? Certainly, and one of the best ways is with our own example. Kids need to see and hear us saying thank you to others. Later, we can explain to them why we did so. As parents, teachers, and caregivers, we don’t want to sound like a broken record, prompting kids to remember the magic words. We’d rather they remembered to do so themselves. Instead of us telling them, we can get creative with objects at hand. For instance, be the voice of the fork on the table and thank the cook for a yummy meal. A stuffie on the bed can say thank you for reading a story and giving a cuddle. Kids often respond to this by echoing the thank you.
Recognizing children’s efforts when they do say thank you reinforces the behavior. This time we might say, “I heard you say thank you to your sister for reaching your toy for you. I bet she felt appreciated.” Or, “I noticed you said thank you when the store helper gave you a balloon. I could tell that person felt happier when I saw the smile.”
Kids often bring adults back from the drama of everyday life to what’s most simple and basic: food, shelter, security, and family. For these we give thanks.
For all of us, an attitude of gratitude makes a positive difference in our own lives. And to you, the readers and supporters of 1 2 3 Kindergarten, a very heartfelt Thank You!