We hear a lot about how it’s important to have an “attitude of gratitude.” But how do we actually teach our kids what it actually means, and how they can demonstrate gratitude in their everyday lives? Thankfully (pun intended), it starts with simple acts and words that even the youngest of kiddos can understand. We’re sharing ten things to help you raise a grateful kid. Scroll down to read 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. 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.
4. 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.
5. Tell kids to say “please” and “thank you.” There’s no substitute for a positive manner. Regularly using words like “please” and “thank you” gets little ones to remember to be grateful while demonstrating respect to others.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Be a grateful parent. Kids learn from observing. There’s no better way to demonstrate gratitude then for you to show how much YOU are thankful in life.
Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Share your thoughts in a comment below!
— Leah R. Singer