Creative Child

Encouraging Gratitude in Children

by Sarah Lyons

As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s nice to reflect on and appreciate our blessings. In our family, each member writes down something they are thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, and we read them aloud at Thanksgiving dinner. It’s a fun exercise that teaches our children to show gratitude for things otherwise taken for granted. We enjoy that yearly pause to remember what we are grateful for, but what about every other day of the year? How do we teach our kids to be grateful all year long?

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Model gratefulness

The easiest and most effective way to start teaching your children gratitude is to model it yourself. Let your children hear you talk about the things you are thankful for. Slip comments of gratitude into your day: “I am so grateful for this beautiful day today so that we can go to the park,” or “I am so thankful for a great job to pay for our home and our food,” for example.

You can also adapt the Thanksgiving Day tradition of going around the table at dinner and naming something you are thankful for, to be done any night of the year. For our kids to appreciate the blessings in their lives, they have to be taught to acknowledge them.

Serve as a family

Families who engage in service projects together tend to be tend to be more appreciative of what they have. When children see that some are less fortunate, they will develop a desire to help others and make a difference. Not only do they become more aware of others and the blessings in their own lives, but they are more likely to be more generous with their time.

Teach them to say thank you

From a young age, teach children to say thank you. Encourage kids to say thank you for any gift or act of service. Even toddlers can be taught to sign “Thank you”. Writing thank you notes is a great way to provide kids the opportunity to thank someone for the gifts they receive and the time and money it took someone to make or purchase them. Encourage the “It’s the thought that counts” policy and explain that it isn’t the actual gift itself but the intent behind the gift that we are grateful for.

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