Teachable Moments: Gratitude


We teach our children from a young age to say “thank you” when they receive something. But there is so much more to it than good manners.

As our children watch and learn from our actions, reactions, and words they copy us. Knowing this we need to capture moments to teach those life lesson. The ones not taught in the classroom.

The holiday season is the perfect time for teachable moments of gratitude.

Acts of Gratitude – Thank You Bags

During the holiday season, retailers are dealing with customers and working long stressful hours. What better time to let those people know that they are appreciated and you are grateful for their service.

Several years ago, my children and I started a tradition to hand out “Thank You Bags”.thank you bag candy

These snack size bags contain a few pieces of candy (chocolate and hard candy) along with a note. The note reads:

“Thank you for helping us today. We just wanted you to know that you are appreciated”. Merry Christmas The Post Family

The note can be printed or handwritten by the child on a strip of paper. An option is to have your child hand write the message and then make copies.

thank you bag

Together the kids and I assemble the bags (while singing Christmas carols). The kids, when they were younger, loved counting and sorting the candy to make sure it was all even.

We fill a basket and put it by the door, as a reminder to grab a couple to hand-out  while we ran errands.

Handing Out the Thank You

IMPORTANT: This a teachable moment – your children need to hand out the bags.

chrissyYounger children under 5: Have the child hand the bag to the person, while you say thank you. I would say “We just wanted to say thank for all you do and we want you to know you are appreciated.”

Older children: Our teens today live in a world of texting where they don’t see the reaction of their words (good or bad). With these moments, they get to experience what it is to be grateful and see the reaction of the recipient.

At first they are nervous and embarrassed, so we would practice what they could say and do.

As they hand the bag to bank teller, dry cleaners, post office clerk, mechanic, grocery store cashier, etc. they would say: “I just want you to know your appreciated. Thank you.”

You and your children will be amazed by the reaction of people. We actually had a Publix cashier begin to cry. She said it had been a rough day and she really needed to hear that. My kids, 5 years later, have never forgotten that moment and how a few simple words can make someone’s day.

deck the mall with kindness I also took a group of teens to the mall, wearing Santa hats, we delivered bags and candy canes (attached with the note) to ALL the store clerks. Instead a flash mod to sing and dance, we spread gratitude. The teens learned a lot that night and we continued the event for a couple more years. Some even moved away and began doing it in their community.

Lessons Learned

  • During the Christmas season, children can’t wait to get gifts. The “Thank You Bags” helps take the eyes off themselves.
  • Children are now more aware of the people they come in contact with daily and appreciate them.
  • The giver gets to witness how a simple thank you and a small gesture can make someone happy.
  • They learn how easy it is to say thank you.
  • That Christmas is not about the presents, but about people.

So during this Christmas season, tell people that they are appreciated. These teachable moments will be a gift to your children that will last a lifetime.



    • Thank you! This has become a family tradition and my kids (now teenagers) look forward to each year. Every year I am amazed that such a simple act has such a big impact on someones day.


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