Does your child beg or whine for toys?
Does he or she get upset if “Santa” doesn’t bring all of the toys on his/her list?
Do you cringe when your child doesn’t show appreciation when someone gives them a gift? Or worse, he/she says something like, “It’s another stupid, ugly sweater from Grandma!”
The holidays are a perfect time to teach your child about gratitude! Showing gratitude is more than just good manners; there are many benefits. In fact, recent studies have shown that children who express gratitude have higher grades, better self esteem, more positive relationships, and were all around healthier. Considered a pioneer in gratitude studies, Jeffrey Froh, PsyD with Hofstra University, conducted a survey with more than 1,200 kids between the ages of 8 and 18. The children who were more grateful for what they already had were more generous and less materialistic.
Toddlers are generally very egocentric … they think the world revolves around them! However, children can begin to understand the concept of gratitude between the ages of 15 and 18 months. By the time children are two or three they may appreciate specific objects, pets, and people. By age four, they can not only be thankful for objects such as toys, but for also feelings like love and kindness.
Where can you begin? Froh points out that “The first step in changing kids’ behavior is being a good role model.” Even something simple like saying “Thank you” will reinforce positive behavior. Below are a few more tips.
· Discuss or write down what you’re grateful for on a regular basis. Try sharing what everyone is grateful for during a family meal or during evening prayers.
· Get into the habit of writing thank you notes when your receive gifts or favors. If your child is too young to write, have them dictate to you what they want to say and include a picture they drew or colored.
· Practice giving to others who may be less fortunate. Take the whole family to volunteer at a homeless shelter, or give gently used toys and clothes to a charity. A less daunting task could be to make soup or shovel the sidewalk for a sick neighbor.
· Have your children help with household chores. They may appreciate you more once they help clear dirty dishes from the table, feed the animals, or help rake leaves. They will also understand that keeping a nice home takes time and energy and should be a family effort.
At Little Angels Preschool & Daycare we’re “Changing the world, one child at a time!” Our teachers focus their lessons on experience-based learning, which addresses the individual growth, potential and strengths of your child. Contact us to schedule a tour of our center!
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