A long time back, I did a post with the message that gratitude starts with attitude. At Emma’s age, it is hard to teach about gratitude. Kids at this age are naturally self-centered and sometimes it is hard to break through. Here are two things you can do to help your kiddo. It might even help you be a bit more grateful in your own life too.
Demonstrate Gratitude– Perhaps the easiest thing to do is to show gratitude in your everyday life. It doesn’t have to be a big production. A simple thank you to someone for holding the door, sending thank you’s, pointing out things to be thankful for…… Try to be natural
Talk About Gratitude in Daily Life– while this one isn’t the easiest to apply, I have found it has had the most impact on Emma. The dinner table is a great place to add this to your daily conversation.
Speaking of Good Deeds Elf, Olivia made her return to Erie, CO before Thanksgiving. I need to get some creative juices flowing (and my Pinterest research skills) and find new ways for Olivia and Emma to give back this holiday season! Here are some of our favorites from the past.
Pay for the person behind you in the drive through line and tell the checkout person to tell them Happy Holidays. Emma loves doing this!
Buy some large candy canes from the store and secretly place them on strangers cars (we call this candy cane bombing). Be sure to include a note to say Seasons Greetings. This is Emma’s favorite!
Donate some new toys to Toys for Tots. Emma likes to be part of the selection process and always has the biggest smile when we place the toys in the collection bin.
Tell 5 strangers Happy Holidays. It instantly brings a smile to their faces.
Leave change on a vending machine or a popcorn surprise on a DVD rental machine.
Some new ones we are going to try:
Stash dollars in random places in a store for people to find.
Be a helper by picking up five things around the house that aren’t yours.
We had a great trip to Chicago for Thanksgiving. It was quick, but we maximized our family time. Emma even did a task from Olivia that was delivered by a Charlie Brown stuffed animal my parents had since Olivia went back to Santa’s Workshop for Thanksgiving.
“No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.” Aesop
Giving back to others is a quality my parents instilled in me at a very young age. There is no better way to kick off the holidays and the true message of the season than by spending time helping those who could use a lending hand.
Emma’s Elf on the Shelf named Olivia should be making an appearance in a week. Instead of the traditional elf, Olivia is a good deeds elf that asks Emma to do specific things for others from buying some toys for Toys for Tots to candy cane bombing cars. We had so much fun last year completing the tasks, I thought it would be fun extending it this season.
Here she is excited to put a candy cane with a note of holiday cheer on someone’s car last December!
Toddler Give Back Ideas:
Have your child sort through toys, clothes and books with you that they have outgrown/lost interest in. Donate those items to a local charity.
Head to the supermarket to help stock the shelves at a food pantry. Have your child think of their favorite things to eat and have them put them in the cart. Have your child help you put the items into a collection bin.
Emma putting food into a food collection bin. This was one of the things she wanted to do for her fall bucket list!
Spread some holiday cheer by making cards for those in nursing homes, for soldiers or anyone that can use a pick me up
Have your toddler take a few coins out of their piggybank. Keep them in your car and either pay for an almost expired meter or tape change to a vending machine
Say hello/Happy Holidays to strangers today
“Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas..perhaps..means a little bit more?” The Grinch
Create a helping jar- use a piggy bank or any container you can collect change in to save from your spare change to money you find in a parking lot etc. Use the money to buy small toileteries for a homeless shelter or dog or cat food for a shelter
Leave a homemade bookmark in a library book for the next reader to find
Pass out stickers to kids waiting in line
Bake treats for local firefighters, police or other community servers
Make an award for the best lights in your neighborhood. Bring the award with some treats over to the house and present it with your toddler
Feed the ducks or birds- fill a birdhouse with seed or save some bread and give it to some feathered friends before they fly south
Call an old friend or someone you haven’t talked to in awhile and say Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays
Do something nice for a neighbor- shovel their walkway, offer to walk their dog, bring them some hot cocoa packets or popcorn to enjoy while watching their favorite holiday movie
Pick out some kid magazines and bring them to the waiting area of a doctor’s or dentist office.
Have them be a helper around the house for the day by helping cook dinner, cleaning up toys etc.
Pay for the person behind you in the drive through line and tell the checkout person to tell them Happy Holidays (Emma loves doing this)
Bring your teacher some packages of tissue because they will always run out during the winter
Pick out some toys for a local Toys for Tots or toy collection program (I realize this might be a bit tough with a toddler in tow. Emma is actually really good about this because I make sure she knows beforehand what it is for.)
Emma donating toys last year!
These are just a few ideas to get you started. They can be adapted as you choose. In the words of Maya Angelo,