“The holiday season is universally viewed as a time of celebration, the end of a year and the beginning of a new one. It is also a time to reconnect with family and friends and give thanks,” says Dr. Hansen. “The holiday season lends itself well to introducing and reminding adults and children about the importance of being grateful.”
In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and all of the other celebrations, Dr. Hansen suggests the following tips on how to help a child understand the concepts of thankfulness during the holidays.
Model thankfulness to a child by using good manners and language and ask other adults in the child’s life to do the same.
Remember to say “thank you” to people no matter how big or small their assistance to you.
Praise the child when he shows thankfulness. When we praise grateful behaviors, children are more likely to repeat them.
Encourage a child to help others. Explain to the child what you are doing when you contribute to a charity, collect food for the food-bank or perform other acts of giving. Use those situations to explain the needs of others to the child and remind the child that while he may not have everything he wants, he has everything he needs.
Encourage young children to collect gently used toys or clothing and encourage older children to volunteer to help those in need. Consider doing this together.
Remember that being thankful is not only for holiday times. Consider other opportunities for the child to acknowledge people and things he is grateful for in his life. Examples of doing this include a parent encouraging their small child to list the toys and belongings that the child is thankful for.
Consider thank you notes. Having children write (or draw pictures) to say thank you for a gift or act of kindness is a simple way to help children develop gratitude.
About Cincinnati Children’s
Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 Best Children’s Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for neonatology and in the top 10 for all pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children’s is one of the top two recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at www.cincinnatichildrens.org.
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