Doctor Gives Advice on How to Raise a Thankful Child During the Holiday Season

Nov 26, 2013, 15:03 ET from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

CINCINNATI, Nov. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Just like that, the summer is a fading memory, the first snow has hit the ground, and the holiday season is upon us.


Many of us are looking forward to the food, family gatherings and gift giving and receiving that comes along with the holiday season. Dr. William Hansen, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, reminds parents that this is also the time of year when we might pause and say thanks, and to take this special opportunity to reinforce this quality of gratitude in their children.

"The holiday season is another opportunity afforded us by the calendar each and every year to teach our children about gratitude" says Dr. Hansen.  "Gratitude is the hinge upon which serenity swings," says Dr. Hansen. It is a quote that is on his screen saver throughout the year, ever reminding him to practice gratitude daily.

It is important to foster gratitude throughout the year, says Dr. Hansen, but he points out that it is a particularly important lesson this time of year. "Children model adults in their lives. Gratitude or the giving of thanks is a particular focus this time of year, and with it we have an opportunity for growth for our children in this aspect of their development." 

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and all of the other celebrations, Dr. Hansen suggests the following tips on how to help a child understand the concepts of thankfulness during the holidays.

  • Model gratitude everywhere. Embrace thankfulness.
  • Live with an "attitude of gratitude." Remember to say "thank you" to people no matter how big or small their assistance to you.
  • Praise your child when he or she demonstrates or expresses gratitude. When we positively reinforce and praise good behavior, our children are more likely to repeat them.
  • Encourage children to help others.  Model this behavior.  Explain to the child what you are doing when you contribute to a charity, collect food for the food-bank or perform other acts of giving. Allow them the opportunity to experience giving freely. Use those situations to explain the needs of others to the child. Combine charity and gratitude. Consider doing this together!
  • Remember that being thankful is not only for holiday times. Consider other opportunities for the child to acknowledge people and things he or she is grateful for in his or her life.  Kindness and generosity are in abundance this time of year and throughout the year.

Finally, teach children gratitude by word and by deed. Unexpected acts of kindness, holding a door open, saying thank you, and writing or drawing a thank you note are all simple ways to help children develop gratitude.

About Cincinnati Children's
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center ranks third in the nation among all Honor Roll hospitals in U.S.News and World Report's 2013 Best Children's Hospitals ranking. It is ranked #1 for cancer and in the top 10 for nine of 10 pediatric specialties. Cincinnati Children's, a non-profit organization, is one of the top three recipients of pediatric research grants from the National Institutes of Health, and a research and teaching affiliate of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.  The medical center is internationally recognized for improving child health and transforming delivery of care through fully integrated, globally recognized research, education and innovation. Additional information can be found at Connect on the Cincinnati Children's blog, via Facebook and on Twitter.

Danielle Jones

SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center