There are several concepts that are important for children to pick up as part of their development, and one of the most important broad realms here is that of thanks and gratitude. Being able to convey these sorts of feelings to others is a hugely important social skill, and children need to not only know why it's important, but have practice at it throughout their early years.
At Devlin's Child Development, social skill development is just one of numerous benefits we offer through our high-quality child care programs for clients around Sandy, which include everything from preschool and daycare to after school care and more. For many children, specific practice using gratitude activities or concepts can be very helpful for imparting these lessons at a variety of ages. Here are some examples you might consider as a parent, or that your child may be exposed to on a regular basis within child care programs - especially as we approach the holiday season where gratitude is especially important.
As soon as your child is old enough to be reading and writing regularly, one simple and effective gratitude activity is to have them write thank-you notes for gifts or favors they receive. This is a great way for them to learn the importance of showing appreciation and expressing thanks, and it can also help improve their writing skills.
As they're doing this, there are a few key areas to emphasize:
Not only will writing thank-you notes help with understanding gratitude as a concept, but it will also allow children to practice empathy and putting themselves in the shoes of others. It will also boost their reading and writing skills, plus help them become more familiar with family members or close family friends.
Throughout a given day with your child, there are numerous opportunities to practice general courtesy and manners. Remind your child to say "please" and "thank you" as appropriate, including when they're making a request or receiving something from someone else. You can also encourage them to use terms like "excuse me" or "pardon me" if they need to interrupt a conversation or ask for help.
These concepts extend into the physical realm as well. When your child is old and strong enough to hold the door for someone, for instance, remind them to do so regularly. And if they're ever given a compliment or thanked themselves, encourage them to respond with an appropriate "you're welcome" or similar term.
One of the most effective ways to teach children gratitude is by simply modeling it yourself. Regularly thank others in front of your child and express appreciation for things they do, whether it's a family member or stranger. You can also involve them in acts of gratitude, such as making thank-you cards for teachers or community helpers.
Furthermore, showing gratitude directly to your child helps them understand the good feelings that come from being appreciated and thanked. This can help them develop a positive attitude towards expressing gratitude themselves.
While some may consider this to be part of the general courtesy section we already discussed, it's worth mentioning on its own as well. Random acts of kindness are a fantastic way to teach children gratitude - consider having them do something small but kind for someone else, whether it's sharing a toy or helping with a chore without being asked.
For some children, particularly those who show an affinity for writing or drawing, keeping a gratitude or kindness journal can be an effective tool. Encourage your child to write down or draw something they're grateful for each day, or make a note of when someone does something kind for them. This will help reinforce the importance of gratitude and encourage positive thinking.
If your child isn't interested in writing or drawing in longer formats, you could also make a gratitude jar where they can write down brief things they're grateful for and put them in the jar to read later. This can be a fun and interactive way to practice gratitude.
By incorporating these activities into your child's daily routine, you can help them develop an understanding of the importance of gratitude and how to express it appropriately. Additionally, enrolling them in a high-quality child care program like Devlin's Child Development can also provide them with numerous opportunities to practice and learn these skills in a fun and engaging environment. Contact us today to learn about any of our child care services for clients around Sandy and nearby areas!