Super Manners: Teaching Your Toddler To Be Thankful!
Happy Hump Day Families!
I hope you all had a happy, celebratory, and hopeful weekend! A weight has been lifted and peace has been restored but there is still so much work to be done. I truly do believe that a lot of great work can begin just at home. You all are raising the generation that will lead us into the future more fiercely and more knowledgeably. With Thanksgiving coming up at the end of the month, how can you all talk to your littles about gratitude? We have to start unlearning things that were taught to us in history and begin moving forward with a better idea of thankfulness. So where do we begin?
At Martial Arts Family Studio, we teach your littles the sign language for "thank you" in our classes. We not only utilize songs with this action in it, but we also try to sign it to your child if we've given them a snack, if another toddler has shared a toy with them, etc. So, why do we do this? One, because this associates an action with a phrase. Two, this creates consistency. The more your little hears or "sees" thankfulness, the more they will latch onto it. But does your little understand what it means to be thankful? Your toddler has been given a toy from a family member for a birthday or Christmas and you tell them to say "thank you" and with much reluctance, they finally say it. This is because they have not established what it means to BE thankful. So, how can we help them?
Make it simple with a gratitude game: (Have your little grab some paper and coloring utensils and ask them these questions)
Color/Name a person you are thankful for.
Color/Name a place you are thankful for.
Color/Name a food you are thankful for.
Color/Name a thing you are thankful for.
Color/Name anything of their choice they are thankful for.
How can you incorporate thankfulness into your daily interactions with your little?
Model Thankfulness: This could be as simple as thanking your little when they do something for you, so they create a better understanding. It could also mean showing them what it is to be grateful for daily things around you. Show them how you might be grateful of the food you are eating and how it's used to nourish you. Show your gratefulness for the time teachers and baby sitters dedicate to also nurturing your little. Show them how grateful you are for beautiful weather or even the rain because it's needed. Show them how grateful you are for time together.
Discussing Needs Verse Wants: Treats become more exciting and your little will be more grateful the more they understand that "treats" are extras. Your little may be too young to understand this concept now but begin conversations with them that not everyone has their needs met and what you can do to help others.
Repetition: The more your little gets in the habit of not only saying "thank you" but understanding "thank you", the easier it will come. It may seem like a chore at first to get your little to say "thank you" but the more they develop, the easier it will come. There are many ways your little may express gratitude without physically saying "thank you". Keep your eyes out for these. Sometime something as simple as receiving a random hug can show your little's gratitude in the simplest and most innocent way.
Discuss Emotions: What does it feel like to be grateful? Talking about this will only enhance your little's understanding. Studies have also shown that children who had a better understanding of their emotions and other's emotions, developed empathy and perspective-taking skills.
Read Books: There is no greater learning tool than reading, so here's a list of books that may help your little better understand thankfulness and gratitude:
Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney
The Thankful Book by New York Times Bestselling Author Todd Parr
Biscuit Is Thankful by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Before We Eat by Pat Brisson
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
I hope you all have a lovely rest of your week!