Gratitude is a learned character trait. The best way to teach our children to be thankful is to model it early on. Here are some ways you can start now, during the most popular gift giving holiday of the year!
When your child is as young as two, you can write out thank you cards and have them finger paint or color on the cards to decorate. Talk about what you are doing and why. Discuss the importance of thanking people for their kind and generous gifts.
It can be daunting to sit with a preschooler and provide them letter after letter for all the words in a thank you card. It’s actually not developmentally appropriate to teach writing this way. Children learn writing best by stretching out the sounds in words, with the exception of higher frequency words that aren’t phonetic like “the”, “at” and “are”.
Instead, what you can do is write out the majority of the thank you card but leave blanks for your child to stretch out certain words. Thank you so much for the ___________ you gave me! Love, _______. You can also purchase pre-written cards like this for your beginning writer to fill in at Target. Here’s an example you can purchase on Etsy.
Help your school-age children come up with different phrases to add to their thank you notes like “You made my day!” or “I love the toy because…” Encourage your child to add an illustration to the note of the gift they were given. If it was a holiday gift, think of adding a fun holiday craft to the thank you card, especially since the kids will be on break at home for a few weeks. We recently made thank you notes with a string of fingerprint holiday lights. Think of other animals and designs that can be made with simple fingerprints like a snowman, reindeer, holly and berries.
– Maria Dismondy, mother of three, reading specialist, fitness instructor and bestselling children’s author living in Southeast Michigan.