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Raising Thankful Children

Look for ways to be involved in community giving with your child
Between ages 2 and 3, you can begin to talk with your child about how he/she can help others who don’t have as much as he/she does. Look for opportunities with a clear connection between your child’s efforts and the recipients.

Good choices include:
Helping dogs/cats at your local shelter: We are playing with these dogs and cats who need lots of love and attention.
Collecting canned foods for a local food pantry: We are helping people who need more food. They will eat the food we bring. Our food will help them feel strong and healthy.
Collecting jackets, hats and mittens for a local children’s program: The jackets we bring will help other children, just like you, stay warm during the winter.

Prompt children to use thankful words
Thankfulness is a complex idea. It will be a while yet before your child truly “gets” it. But reminding children to say “please” and “thank you” (beginning at about 18 months) is a good start. Because it will take some time for them to learn when to use these words, you’ll probably be providing prompts for a while.

Show thankfulness to your children
It’s easy to forget, but important to do. Thank you for cooperating at the doctor’s office. Thank you for getting your jacket when I asked. Thank you for coming right away when I said it was time to leave the park; I know it was hard for you to get off the swing. Thank you for your hug—it made me feel so happy!

Grateful people…
 have more energy and optimism
 are less bothered by life’s hassles
 are more resilient in the face of stress
 are healthier
 suffer less depression than the rest of us
 are more compassionate
 are more likely to help others
 are less materialistic
 are more satisfied with life.

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