Ways for Children to Show Thanks
Gratitude is an inherent part of the Montessori Grace & Courtesy curriculum which helps children use their will to show comfort and respect for themselves and for others. Though they are often busy, the holidays are a great time to reflect on the many people that contribute meaningfully to our lives and to express our appreciation. Showing gratitude is a great way to strengthen our relationships and to let others know how much we value them.
Dr. Montessori believed these efforts of showing gratitude should begin in childhood. She felt we should give children the opportunity to reflect on the contributions of others, the interconnectedness of each and every living thing, and to develop an appreciation for each member’s contribution. For the very young child, it may take some time for them to truly absorb the meaning of expressing gratitude. Although they may be quick to say please and thank you, they may not quite understand what it means to be grateful. Continuing to model gratefulness and providing repeated opportunities for children to practice showing thanks can help them begin to understand.
Here are a few ways children can show thanks:
- Express gratitude when someone does something kind. These might be simple comments such as “I appreciate you helping to clear the table.” Model these interactions for your child as well.
- Compliment others. Encourage your child to share things they appreciate about another person. Model doing the same for them.
- Help with daily tasks. Provide opportunities for children to help in the classroom and around the home with daily tasks including setting the table, washing dishes, doing laundry, watering the plants, and feeding pets. The more children help, the more they will understand and appreciate the contributions of others.
- Do an act of service. Encourage your child to think of a way that they could help someone out in their neighborhood or community. Maybe they could walk a neighbor’s dog, rake their leaves, or take out their trash.
- Donate to those in need. Invite your child to go through their clothes and toys, donating gently used items they no longer wear or play with to those in need. Bring them with you to deliver the items.
- Write thank you notes. Children can write thank you notes for small gestures and for gifts they may receive, letting people know they appreciate their kindness and graciousness. The act of writing a letter helps children think about why they are grateful. Younger children can even draw a picture. You may even encourage your child to write a thank you letter to someone they don’t know personally such as a first responder, emphasizing the idea that there are many people in the community to feel grateful for as well.
- Volunteer in the community. Find ways that your child can give back to the community such as by volunteering at an animal shelter or participating in a food drive.
- Give someone a gift. Allowing your child to be involved in the gift giving process from thinking of gift ideas, to shopping for and wrapping the presents, and finally giving the gift to the recipients, helps them consider others.
Showing thanks is one simple way that children can express their appreciation for others. Encouraging these habits in your child can help them lay the foundation for a positive, grateful outlook on life.
About the Author
Heather White, EdS, is a Montessori Coach & Consultant, a Montessori teacher trainer, and a blog writer and content creator. Formerly, she was a Montessori teacher, Lower Elementary coordinator, associate head of school, and a Montessori nanny/in-home teacher. She also has experience as a School Psychologist intern. She is AMS credentialed (Early Childhood, Elementary I) and is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Contact her at email@example.com.