Teaching Your Little One How to Be Thankful

Teaching Your Little One How to Be Thankful - Playgarden NYC

Being thankful and grateful is a year-round practice. While most widely acknowledged and practiced during holiday seasons, it’s important to teach our little ones how to be thankful each and every day. 

Please and Thank You

It all starts here, with two of the most important phrases we can learn! It may not seem like a lot, but your little one using “please” and “thank you” shows a lot of respect and kindness for the people they interact with. A gentle reminder from you when they ask for or get something will lead to them eventually saying it without prompting, even at their NYC pre-k while you’re not around! You can also teach them these words in sign language, as pictured below:

Please: make a flat hand and make a circular motion on your chest.

Thank You: make a flat hand, put the tips of your fingers on your chin, then lower your hand.

Practice Random Acts of Kindness

Little ones learn best when they see behaviors and practices being done by people they look up to and are learning from everyday, whether that’s their NYC pre-k teachers, you as their parent, or other important adults in their life. It’s fundamental for your little one to see random acts of kindness and how they can brighten someone’s day. Try to remember someone’s name if they tell it to you. If someone holds a door open for you, always give a quick “thank you,” so your little one can learn how kind it is when people help each other out. Additionally, show your little one how we can “pay it forward,” and show kindness to someone else throughout the day; maybe you open a door for someone else, or let someone who needs the elevator get the last spot and wait for the next one. 


Around the holidays, your little one’s NYC pre-k school may host a drive for new or gently used clothes and toys. This is a great opportunity to involve your little one! Maybe they have toys that are practically new, but they have grown out of or lost interest in them. If you notice your little one not playing with certain toys anymore, you can say “I noticed you don’t play with this much anymore. Would you like to donate it so another child could enjoy it?” An additional lesson here is that people need help year-round, not just during the holidays. 

Offer Perspective

Our little ones are still learning how big our world really is; the many people and places all over the globe, as well as the different needs each person has. This is a great time to teach thankfulness for the home we live in, the clothes we wear, the food in our fridge and pantry, because not everyone has easy access to those things. But we can help by donating, spreading kindness and awareness, so other people can help and feel thankful, too!

Kindness in Action

Praise your little one when they practice kindness at their NYC pre-k, at home, and around your neighborhood, and tell them how proud of them you are. As we’ve mentioned before, repetition and consistency are key for our little ones to build their skill sets. If they hear praise for something, they will most likely do it more often. If they continue to repeatedly get told, for example, “that was so kind when you shared your favorite activity with your friend, I’m very proud of you,” then they’ll continue showing kindness through those actions!

Make a Thankful/Gratitude List

A great activity to practice thankfulness and gratitude is making a list of things your little one is grateful for. This can include friends, family, toys, places, whatever you can think of together. To make it a bit more fun, you can print out pictures of the things on your list and put them on a poster board or piece of paper. Get creative and use paint or markers to write something to the effect of “I’m grateful for…” A visual like this can help them see how much they have to be thankful for!


Top Tips for Booking a Birthday Party for Your Little One - Playgarden NYC
May 15, 2024

Top Tips for Booking a Birthday Party for Your Little One

Managing Preschool Separation Anxiety - Playgarden NYC
April 26, 2024

Managing Preschool Separation Anxiety

    How to Plan a Playdate          - Playgarden NYC
March 29, 2024

    How to Plan a Playdate         

Miss Julia - Playgarden NYC
Hi, I'm Miss Julia!

Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.