Monday, November 21, 2011

Teaching Kids to Say "Thanks"




Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for us to focus on the many things for which we should be grateful—from obvious things like food to eat and a warm bed at night to the little, more subtle things like birds flocking to the bird feeder or a sunny day for a winter outing. The nice thing about Thanksgiving is that the specific focus on gratitude on this particular day makes it more likely that even very young children will “sit up and pay attention.”

However, I think we all can agree that feeling grateful and expressing gratitude shouldn’t be just a one-day-a-year thing. The more difficult challenge, therefore, is how to help children understand that these behaviors are important every day. It’s an important goal because research shows that kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don't.

That’s why I was so glad to see a list of tips for how to foster gratitude in children included in an article prepared under the banner of the child-advocacy organization, Zero to Three. Here’s link: http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/social-emotional-development/raising-a-thankful-child.html .

One thing that we here at Baby Signs can add to the list for the littlest ones is teaching the sign for “Thank You” (place fingertips on chin and make arching movement outward). It’s amazing how early and easily signing toddlers pick up this important concept!


Happy Thanksgiving to one and all! (And don't forget to follow us on Facebook!)

Linda

Linda Acredolo, Ph.D.
Co-Founder, the Baby Signs Program
Professor Emeritus, UC Davis
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