As parents, guiding our kids towards living a life with an “attitude of gratitude” is no easy feat. After all, how do we actually teach our kids what gratitude means, and how they can demonstrate it on the daily? Thankfully (see what we did there?!) for all of us, it starts with simple acts and words that even the youngest of kids can understand. We’re sharing 12 easy things you can do to raise a grateful kid. Keep reading to see them all.
1. Ask your kids to name one thing they’re grateful for every night. Starting this habit helps kids (and us adults) remember what is good in our lives, and that we are grateful for even the smallest of things. This can be during a dinner conversation or before bed.
2. Give back to the community. Acts of service are great ways to instill gratitude in kids. Consider participating in a local park clean-up, donate canned goods to a food pantry, or give away unused clothes and toys. There are also lots of ways you can volunteer right from your own home.
3. Have a Turkey on the Table during the holidays. Created by two moms determined to instill gratitude in their young children, Turkey on the Table helps family members come together to recognize and record what they are thankful for. All throughout the month of November, simply write on the provided “feathers” and display for all to see. Plus, with every turkey purchased, 10 meals are donated to families in need in partnership with Feeding America
4. Teach them to “work” for a reward. I’m sure we’ve lost track how many times our kids ask for a new toy or something fun. The next time your little one wants another hour of screen time, how about telling them to complete a household chore before getting the reward. Receiving a reward after work always makes the treat feel more well-deserved.
5. Integrate gratitude with holidays and special days. Most would agree Thanksgiving is the leader in integrating thankfulness into a special day. But there are other days where it’s equally important to teach kids the meaning of the holiday and how they can be grateful for it. Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day are teaching opportunities for kids to be grateful for service members. Even days like Giving Tuesday is a way for your family to give back financially (doesn’t have to break the bank) to a charity your family supports.
6. Tell kids to say “please” and “thank you.” There’s no substitute for good manners. Regularly using words like “please” and “thank you” gets little ones to remember to be grateful while demonstrating respect to others.
7. Gratitude goes both ways, so make sure to say “thank you” to your kids. As parents, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget to show appreciation to our little ones. So when they do something kind or follow directions, remember to say “thank you.” It may seem like a small gesture, but they will know you’re grateful.
8. Teach them about food security. It can be hard for young kids to understand what it’s like to not have enough food in their bellies. We’ve got easy ways to help them understand, and ideas on how to give back.
9. Look for the positive in even the most difficult situations. It’s easy to focus on the negative, especially when a situation doesn’t go our way. Helping kids focus on the positive (even if it’s a small positive) will go a long way in helping them feel grateful in life, even during the worst of times.
10. Send notes of gratitude. Don’t reserve your “thank you” notes for birthday gifts and holiday cards. Teach your kids the importance of gratitude by having them write a note or draw a picture for a special person each month. This could be a grandparent, a neighbor, teacher or community member.
11. Turn holiday gifting into an opportunity to give back. With the holidays approaching and kids making their wish lists of toys, try making a new kind of list. Have your kiddos write down a few gift ideas they’d like to give to others. So rather than focusing simply on the getting, it’s also about giving.
12. Be a grateful parent. Kids learn from observing. There’s no better way to demonstrate gratitude than for you to show how much YOU are thankful in life.
— Leah R. Singer