As the holiday season approaches, the subject of gratitude becomes more relevant than ever. This season of family feasts and gift-giving offers parents the perfect opportunity to teach their children the value of gratitude. Before it’s time to start tearing open presents, your little one can learn to appreciate the toys and loving family that they already have.
Thankful children care less about material things, often forming deeper connections with their friends and family. Feelings of gratitude are linked to happiness in children by the time they enter kindergarten. It’s never too early to start teaching kids gratitude.
How to Teach Kids Gratitude
Teaching your child gratitude is easier than you might think! Some gratitude activities are fun and interactive, so your little will think it’s a game. If you’re unsure how to teach your child to be grateful, try these easy daily practices.
1. Lead by Example
Young children will model their parents’ behaviors. They’re like miniature carbon copies! Be a good example for your kids by showing gratitude throughout your daily life. Here are some simple ways to lead by example:
- Say “thank you”: There are so many opportunities to thank people throughout the day. Show appreciation for more than just material items. Thank others for their kindness, generosity and other acts of service. Encourage your child to thank people with you.
- Tell stories: Explain to your kids what you’re grateful for. Show your appreciation for the sunny weather or spending time with family. It teaches them to be thankful for the good things in life.
- Help others: Donating to people in need teaches generosity and gratitude for what you have. Encourage your little one to help you collect items for a local charity.
2. Write Thank-You Notes Together
There are more ways to express gratitude than just saying “thank you.” Sending a card takes a little more effort, but it shows that you truly care. Teach your child how to show their gratitude in more than one way by letting them help you write thank-you notes. You can also encourage them to write their own messages. They could practice after the holidays by sending thank-you cards for all of their gifts.
3. Share What You Are Thankful for Each Night Before Bed
What better way to end the day than with feelings of gratitude in your heart? Make it a habit to take turns sharing one thing you’re grateful for once your little one is snuggled into bed. You can turn it into a family affair or talk to them one-on-one. Spending time reflecting on the day will help you connect with your child and check their progress as they become more thankful. It will also teach them to focus on happy thoughts to feel more relaxed and ready for sleep.
4. Take Gratitude Walks
In the digital world, kids experience a lot of outside influence. Seeing all the fancy clothes and toys that other people have can make them feel like they need more. Taking a break from all the distractions and spending time with nature can help your family focus on what’s really important.
Gather everyone’s walking shoes and head for the great outdoors. Leave the toys and electronics behind so your children can focus on the beauty of wildlife. Going for a walk helps kids clear their heads and focus on real life. You can share happy stories and encourage everyone to share something that they’re grateful for.
5. Start a Gratitude Jar
Interactive activities are a fun, easy way to get your child’s attention and help them learn new things. Using a clear container and some scrap paper, you can create a gratitude jar to use with your family. A glass jar or clear plastic container will work best because you can watch your notes pile up inside. You can let your little one decorate the container to get them excited about the activity.
Whenever someone in the family feels grateful, they can write about it on a piece of paper and stick it in the jar. Perhaps something like, “I’m grateful that my cousins came to visit. I love playing with them.” Younger children will need your help writing out their notes, which will give them another opportunity to talk about their gratitude. When the jar fills up, you can take turns reading the slips of paper and remembering all of the good things that you’re thankful for.
6. Create a Thankful Window
A creative way to showcase gratitude in your home is by making a thankful window. All it takes is a window and a few other supplies. Using window-safe markers or mess-free sticky notes, children can display things they’re grateful for right on the glass! When the window is full, you can clean it off and start writing new notes. Your kids get to express their gratitude and create a beautiful display for Thanksgiving.
7. Give Them Chores
When you frame it as a positive activity, kids will enjoy helping around the house. They can feed the dog, water the plants or pick up their toys. Children who complete age-appropriate chores learn responsibility and independence. Chores can show littles how hard their parents work to take care of the family. They can also teach them to respect their things and be grateful for their homes.
8. Encourage Creative Play
With a toy box full of new things to play with, it’s easy for children to feel thankful and excited. In a few days, you might be surprised to hear them asking for even more. Kids love the excitement of playing with one toy after another. But the more they have, the less they can appreciate each one.
Encourage your children to find new ways to enjoy the toys they already have. They can host a tea party for their stuffed animals and create finger sandwiches with old building blocks. They’ll learn to use their imagination and appreciate the things they already have. And when they do get new toys, they’ll love them all the more!
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