Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University Faculty Expert Offers Tips on Raising a Thankful Child

12-16 Alice HallHave you ever been embarrassed by your child’s reaction to gifts from family or friends? Perhaps they were less than thrilled with the present, or maybe just too excited to stop and share two very important words: “Thank you.”

Regardless of religious affiliation, there is no time when lack of manners is more apparent than the holidays. From gift giving to family gatherings to public events, children are met with hundreds of opportunities to express appreciation and share thankfulness for the things they have.

Child and family development specialist Alice Hall said that manners are a vital skill that must be taught by parents as well as exemplified in everyday living.

“It’s important for parents to discuss what values they want to instill in their children,” said Hall, who has taught child development at Georgia Southern since 1999. “If these include manners like ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ they should also have a plan for how they will encourage these skills in their children. Just reminding kids here and there won’t cut it.”

Hall said that parents often start out with great intentions, but forget that kids thrive on structure and boundaries.

“One of the biggest pitfalls: not saying “no” often enough,” Hall said.

Several important lessons — money management, giving and charitable acts — can encourage manners and thankfulness, according to the child development specialist. Teaching children money management, which includes providing opportunities to earn cash as well as guidance on how to save, allows them to better comprehend value and be more appreciative when money is spent on them.

“But make sure the experience is tactile; kids learn best when they participate in the physical exchange of service for money and money for goods,” Hall said. “Likewise, directly involving kids in the giving process and teaching them to give gifts with love will make them more thankful as recipients.”

Another great way to instill a sense of gratitude is by exposing kids to people and communities where basic needs are not met. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or a local advocacy center. “Adopt” a family or child for the holidays. Volunteering to help those who live without life’s pleasures and necessities will make children more appreciative of what they have.

Georgia Southern University, a Carnegie Doctoral/Research University, offers 114 degree programs serving more than 19,000 students. Through eight colleges, the University offers bachelors, masters and doctoral degree programs built on more than a century of academic achievement. The University, one of Georgia’s largest, is a top choice of Georgia’s HOPE scholars and is recognized for its student-centered approach to education. Visit:

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