The best way to teach anything to a child is to model it.
In the poem, Children Learn What They Live by Dorothy Law Nolte c1972, Nolte describes perfectly the idea that we can facilitate correct attitudes in our children by modeling behaviors that cause them to form positive thought processes and behaviors. This applies when thinking of producing thankfulness. If our children are raised in an environment of gratitude, it will make them thankful. As parents take time to express gratitude and model thankfulness, children will begin to observe and model what they see.
Modeling this is not hard, in fact it can be fun. Here is an activity to cultivate thankfulness in children that will illustrate how to help children write thank you notes, a valuable skill they will use for the rest of their lives.
Once a week, have everyone in the family write one thing they are thankful for and slip it in a jar. At the end of the month, have each one, Mom and Dad included, look at the slips and pick one that they like the most. Then, as a family, sit down together and write a thank you note to express gratitude to the person responsible for the item written on the paper. As parents write their thank you notes, they can encourage and help the children to express thankfulness in their notes by giving them ideas, showing them what they have written, and giving them positive feedback on their creativity. It’s a great way to assure that you participate in a family activity at least once a month and truly spend quality time together. Times like these are meaningful and remain as a fond memory in the minds of children for years to come. They are the kinds of events that form family traditions that can be passed on to future generations and are something you will be thankful for in the years to come.