Trying to teach toddlers how to be grateful is a hard task. I don’t know, maybe I’m the weird one and your kids are always thankful and never utter the phrase “but it’s not fair.” * Insert eye roll here! *
I love my kids, and I’m sure you do too, but when they say, “but it’s not fair!” I instantly get really irritated. Maybe it’s because my 5-year-old says it at least 5-10 times a day. (Not even exaggerating.)
Time and time again I have to explain to her how it really is fair and taking turns is the nice thing to do. For example, Nana and Papa time. Now my kids LOVE their Nana & Papa, A LOT. For about 2 years now my oldest has gotten to spend the night over there by herself multiple times. When it was my middle child’s turn to go by herself, OHH LORDY, my oldest had a complete meltdown. Tears, tantrums, fits. I’m telling you it was the whole nine yards. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was either cutting someone’s arm off or performing an exorcist.
Nope, just telling my oldest that it isn’t her turn to go to Nana & Papa’s.
I think gratefulness is a hard concept for toddlers because at this age they are ingrained to be selfish creatures. Plus, to them life is good, and they don’t realize that most of the things they have are things that some people go without; electricity, food, a warm bed, a house, family car, toys and so much more. So, when we come in and try to teach them how and why they need to be thankful, it can be a hard concept for them to comprehend. Nevertheless, we still trek forward and continue to teach our kids how to be thankful because if not then they will grow up to be self-entitled brats, and no one wants that.
This Thanksgiving I decided an easy way for my little ones to try and learn the concept of gratefulness was by doing a thankful tree activity. This way it became something they could physically partake in and in the end, they could visually see all they had in their lives that they were grateful for.
After I printed, cut out, and assembled all the pieces we started out by my husband and I saying something we were grateful for and then wrote it on a leaf. After we gave our examples we then asked each kid one at a time to tell us what they were thankful for. Sometimes when we would say what we were thankful for it would lead into a deeper conversation. For example, good health, clean water, and our home. My oldest didn’t understand why that was something to be thankful for. It was a great opportunity to teach them about how some people are less fortunate in life than we are. Some are very sick with things like cancer, tumors, or other illnesses, while others live in a place where homes and clean water aren’t available to them.
When we got done filling out all of the leaves the girls were excited to start putting them on the tree. After all the leaves were tapped to the tree my girls stepped back and made the comment that there were a lot of leaves on the tree. This was my opportunity to show them physically how much in our lives we have to be thankful for. As we sat there looking at the tree they even started listing even more things they were thankful for that were not up there.
By doing this activity I think the concept of being grateful was really driven home to them. Now we’ll see how long this last, but if anything, I think it’s a great activity to teach the concept of gratefulness and gives them a good foundation.
- Print the leaves on cardstock instead of regular printer paper. You will have to print that specific page multiple times to get enough leaves.
- When putting the tree together you will have to trim off the edge of some pages to make it fit together. Once you print it this will make sense.
- If you want, you can laminate each piece, so you can use them year after year.
- Take a picture each year and keep it with your Thanksgiving stuff. This will allow you to reminisce about the things your kids say they are thankful for year after year.
Even though the kids are little, and this can be a hard concept for them, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and instill gratefulness at a young age. To get your FREE Thankful Tree printable fill out the form below! Also, I’d love to hear how much you and your kids enjoyed this activity so comment below and let me know how it goes!