Fostering Gratitude During the Holidays
The holidays are the time we take to reflect on the past year and express gratitude for the people, family, friends, and experiences we have had. This can seem like a broad concept for little ones to comprehend. However, your little one most likely practices gratitude every day. Teaching them how to say “thank you” is one of the first ways they learn about gratitude; they learn that when someone does something we ask of them, “thank you” is how they show their appreciation, or gratitude.
Thanksgiving is the holiday that really lends itself to teaching about gratitude and being thankful. Little ones see their families come together and share what they are grateful for. They learn that it’s important to say “I’m grateful for my family and everything they do for me.” A little one’s favorite question of “why?” may come up when they are learning about gratitude. It tends to be easier for them to see the world through their own experience.
So you can ask them “how does it make you feel when your family or friends tell you how much they love you?” They will most likely say “it makes me happy” or “it makes me feel good.” Then tell them “and that’s how you make other people feel when you tell them how grateful you are for them!” Your little one’s world is pretty small right now, it’s always helpful to relate back to them to help them understand these bigger topics.
Here are a couple other ways to practice gratitude with your little ones:
Pick a time during the day or week that your family is all together, maybe sitting around the table for dinner. Invite everyone to share something they are grateful for that day or week. Let your little one see how the grown-ups and possible siblings express their gratitude. Listening to one parent say “I’m grateful for the food on our table,” and another parent say “I’m grateful for this time we get to spend together,” shows your little one how easy it is to find gratitude in your life. Before you know it they will be itching to share what they are grateful for.
Create a gratitude jar with your little one to share with the entire family. Feel free to make an art project out of it! Use paint, glitter, whatever you like to make your family’s jar all your own. On slips of paper, come up with a couple things you are grateful for and put them in the jar. Explain to your little one that when we think of something we are grateful for, we can write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Watch how the jar fills up with love and gratitude. Additionally, maybe we are having a tough day and need some gratitude. Invite them to pull a slip of paper out of the jar to share and discuss.
Exploring outside with your preschooler is a great way to show gratitude for the world around them, and the even bigger world they are beginning to learn about. Get bundled up and take a walk outside with your little ones with the intention of finding gratitude. As you walk, tell them what you are grateful for and invite them to do the same. You can start with “I am grateful that the sun is shining today so that we can explore together.” Or maybe you see a butterfly and say “I’m grateful for butterflies because they’re beautiful and always make me smile.” Show your little one how easy it is to find gratitude around them and they will be even more inclined to explore the world around them.
Embrace the holiday spirit with your little ones and share in the magic of this beautiful time of year. Share your traditions, your gratitude, and enjoy the time spent together. Wishing you and your family the warmest holidays and the brightest of new years.
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Hi, I'm Miss Julia!
Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.