Ask The Mamas: Thanksgiving

Each week we will ask our mamas a question from our readers that pertains to babies, toddlers, or parenting. Make sure to check back each Tuesday to see their responses!

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MSW reader Angie asks:

“How are you teaching your kids to be thankful this Thanksgiving?”

We teach thankfulness every day, so it’s not just a holiday thing. My oldest has a lot of toys, too many really. She has to donate five toys a month and she knows they go to kids who have less than she does. She also has to donate one toy she receives for her birthday. By doing this, she’s learning empathy and how to give freely. I never want her to feel entitled to anything. ~Bonnie N.

Our little man is not even two and I know he won’t understand the concept of Thanksgiving. I am a teacher, though (to a wonderful group of kindergarten students!) and some things that we’re doing are writing about what we’re thankful for, drawing pictures, reading lots of books and making turkeys. I’ve seen a cute idea on Pinterest where you make a turkey (out of construction paper) and each child/student can write one thing they are thankful for on each feather. ~Mary Ellen M. 

Photo by norarachel, used under Creative Commons license.

A is still a little young to understand giving thanks and the reason why we celebrate Thanksgiving (she turns two right before Thanksgiving this year). My husband and I decided early on that we would work on using please and thank you more often so our children would use them too. So, even though Alexis doesn’t understand what being thankful means, ‘thank you’ is already in her vocabulary. As she grows older, I think we will just continue making sure she is using her manners and teach her to not take anything she has for granted. ~Christy A. 

Our son is only three, but we have been talking to him about the upcoming holiday and how we will spend it with all of our family and friends. To him, this is no different than any other holiday or even a birthday. But I’m hoping he will notice the difference this year since he’s much more aware of subtleness than when he was younger.This week we are also going to thin out his toy collection and donate some toys to a needy family. He seems excited to get to give some of his toys to a kid who doesn’t have any. Like Bonnie, I don’t want him to feel entitled to anything.~Alex T. 

At only 18 months, I simply try to teach my daughter to appreciate the nice things that surround her. I explain to her when something was kindly said or done and teach her to say ‘thank you’ accordingly. I also always tell her how lucky she is to be surrounded by so much love. She doesn’t say anything back, but she smiles.~Debbie F.

Our son is only 18 months, so I know he won’t understand what Thanksgiving is yet, but he is slowly understanding the concept of ‘thank you.’ Though it’s “tank too” to him, he will say it now when we hand him something and it makes me smile knowing that he really is learning his manners. Next year we will work on the meaning of Thanksgiving a little more!~Heidi C. 

Ava is still a little young to fully understand, however, I plan on just telling her to say thank you and to give thanks. She listens and smiles when I tell her things so I know she kind of understands.~Denise B.

My husband and I just like to set a good example for our daughter. Since she’s so young, I think leading by example is the best way to really teach her something and make it stick. Saying please and thank you is a good start; we also make sure we say prayers of thanks before meals and sometimes at other times. Showing consideration and respect is a great way to show thankfulness. ~Cassie W.

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