Monday, June 17, 2013

Planting Seeds of Thankfulness in Little Ones

In my few years as a teacher and short time as a mommy, I know for sure that kids understand and are capable of much more than we grownups typically give them credit for.  There is an ever-growing list of words we have to be careful speaking in our house (you know, dangerous ones like "cheese", "puffs", "outside", and "bye-bye") because Sophie definitely understands them and knows that she wants those things!   It almost always takes me by surprise to discover a new word or idea she understands.

She is listening to us and picking up on so much more than I realize.  This makes me want to be really intentional in the things we do together and really think about what we are teaching her through our daily life activities.  One thing I definitely want to help cultivate in her is thankfulness towards others, but especially towards God.

I've been working on her signing "thank you" after we give her something (often its more like blowing a kiss, but that works too!).  Sometimes she'll even mimic saying "thank you" - it's super precious.  I know she doesn't really understand what this means yet, but that understanding will come with time.

She just had her first birthday party a couple weeks ago (pictures to come eventually!) she was blessed with some wonderful gifts from family and friends!  I am working on her thank you notes and wanted to include her in them somehow in a way that would begin to plant the seeds of thankfulness her in tiny heart.  So I wrote the notes (obviously) and then we sat together and she colored on them (translation: stacked her crayons and moved them around on the desk, but it made a pretty picture nonetheless!).  It makes for a really sweet little note.

But more important than just having a pretty picture to send with the thank you notes, I talk about the gift the person gave,  how nice it was of them to give it, and how much fun we have playing with it or using it.  I tell her about how much the person loves her and how we were telling them thank you with this note.  At this point she usually signs thank you (because she's adorable...), and then, most importantly, I hold her tiny little hands together in mine and say a short prayer thanking God for the person who sent the gift. "Thank you God for Aunt Becca, Amen." Then she adds, "ah-ahh" - (you know, Amen).

Granted, it is taking exponentially longer to get her thank you notes in the mail as we pretty much only get to one per day this way, but I like to think that on some level this is sinking into her heart.  And if I'm wrong, we're certainly no worse off, and it's good for me to reminded of all these things as well.  Double win!

What ideas do you have to cultivate thankfulness in little ones?  I'd love to hear ways you work on this with your sweet littles.  :)


  1. This is great! We continually use manners in our home and by age 2 our little one uses them regularly! If she forgets we help her remember! I also include her on writing thank you notes! We have lots of conversations too about thankfulness and talking about our many blessings. In the fall we made a thankful tree (see my blog). I think it would be a great idea to make a thankful book together!

  2. Thanks, Jessica! Those are great ideas. I'll check out that thankful tree - it sounds fun!