Teach Your Child to Make a #ThankList

Quick! Who are you thankful for?

Is it your spouse/partner? Kid(s)? Mom? Dad? ...?

If you have trouble naming someone beyond core family members, you're not alone. Actress Elizabeth Banks recently found herself stumped as well. But with the help of a new gratitude initiative called the ThankList, Banks was able to remember and thank a friend she hadn't seen in 15 years.

According to the 2014 Civility in America survey, 93 percent of Americans believe there's a civility problem that is contributing to an increasingly rude nation. To help make the world a nicer, thoughtful, and caring place, American Greetings created the ThankList project and then teamed up with the Huffington Post to remind people that two simple words ("Thank you") are powerful enough to increase civility.

You're encouraged to write a list of people who shaped you and who you want to thank (just watch this series of short ThankList films to be inspired!). The people you express gratitude for can be "anyone in your life who listened when you needed someone to listen or anyone who supported you when you needed support," said Banks, one of five guest speakers at a ThankList media panel.

Of course, gratitude doesn't have to start and end with adults -- teaching kids to be thankful from an early age will help them be happier and more appreciative with the people and things around them. A recent study even found that gratitude is a key factor in helping people feel more positive and satisfied later in life. Nurturing a grateful child can also develop other related qualities such as kindness, generosity, a sense of social responsibility, and even good manners. Plus, giving thanks also has long-term physical and mental health benefits.

So a child's first role model for gratitude starts with you -- by sharing your own ThankList (use #ThankList on social media), keeping a gratitude journal, or even doing good deeds can help your little one understand the importance of counting your blessings. After all, there's a reason why we ask kids to express gratitude every Thanksgiving, though the practice could certainly be done year-round. And according to the same civility survey, millennials are becoming more proactive in countering incivility and doing something about it -- which is good news to be thankful for, because the more kindness and gratitude spreads, the more hope parents will have that the world is becoming a better place for kids.

Sherry Huang is a Features Editor for Parents.com. She loves collecting children's picture books and has an undeniable love for cookies of all kinds. Her spirit animal would be Beyoncé Pad Thai. Follow her on Twitter @sherendipitea.

Writing thank-you notes is an important skill. See how to help your kids say "thanks" the right way.

Photo of "I'm Thankful For" sign via Shutterstock

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