Teaching your kids to say “thank you”

As a parent, you are always encouraging your kids to say “thank you.”

You want them to be polite and respectful of other people and to show appreciation.

When someone gives them something or does something nice for your kids, you always say to them… “Say Thank you!”

Children have to learn to say thank you. You are their primary teacher.

And like all learning, there are many ways to approach it.

Children learn by watching.

They are always observing you and copying you. You are their hero and their role model. If you want them to say “thank you”, they need to see and hear you saying “thank you” too.

Although it’s sometimes challenging in the midst of a busy day, there are so many opportunities to say “thank you” to the people you live with. (And some of the time you don’t think to do it.)

Here are some examples.

  • Thanks for picking up your toys
  • Thanks for telling me you need to go pee
  • Thank you for giving me the stick you found on the ground
  • Thanks for sharing with your friend
  • To whomever prepared a snack or meal “Thanks for making breakfast”
  • Thanks for remembering to bring home the note from your teacher
  • Thanks for doing the dishes
  • Thanks for comforting the baby

I’m sure you get the point. You can show appreciation and gratitude to those you live with.

It’s not only good manners and kind, it really helps people not feel taken for granted.

My family always thanked me for making dinner, even if they didn’t eat it because it was one of my “experimental” recipes that didn’t exactly work out.

It made such a difference to me and made me feel that all the work was worth it.

But what about saying thanks when you are out and about with your kids?

Here’s a few opportunities outside of family and home to model “thank you-ing”

  • When you are out at a restaurant always thank the server
  • When you are shopping, thank the salesperson who helped you or the cashier at the checkout
  • When you pick your child up at preschool or daycare, thank the teachers and caregivers
  • When you’ve been having a play date at someone’s house, thank your host
  • When you see a city worker shovelling the snow, thank him or her.
  • If you ride the bus, thank the bus driver

There is another aspect to “thankfulness” which involves instilling a sense of appreciation for the wonderful things in our lives.

And again, as a parent, you are the role model for this.

You are teaching your child appreciation when you…

  • Point out a beautiful sunset.
  • Notice a tiny bug on a leaf.
  • Invite your child to watch and delight in the ripples when you throw a pebble into a puddle,
  • Say “how nice it feels to snuggle up and read a book” or “what fun it is to dance around to music together”

All of this says to kids “Life is good and it’s wonderful to be alive”.

When life is difficult and challenging, finding things to appreciate and feel thankful for makes it way easier to deal with the hard stuff.

Instilling the capacity for gratitude and appreciation in your kids is a great gift to them.

So remember to teach your kids to say “thank you”  and to appreciate all the good things in life.

It’s good for you and good for your kids.


Judy Banfield

I’m Judy Banfield and I’m here to help you feel better about yourself as a person and more confident and secure as a parent.

In my 30+ years of working with babies, young children and parents, I have learned that valuing and treasuring and deeply knowing yourself gives you the foundation to more confidently and joyfully, love, treasure, teach and guide your children.

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