How to Teach Children Gratitude

With the holidays approaching, appreciation and gratitude are often top of mind. There are so many things to be thankful for — extra family time, special traditions, seeing the magic of the holidays through your child’s eyes, or maybe even your grandma’s homemade apple pie that makes the whole house smell like cinnamon, warm apples, and sweet buttery dough.

Being thankful is an easy concept for adults to understand, but it takes some extra effort and practice for children to learn it. Try these 5 simple tips to help your child feel more thankful now and throughout the year:

1. Start each day with gratitude: Similar to daily affirmations, each morning while getting ready for the day, ask what are 3 things your child is thankful for. Encouraging your child to state them with pride will help create a positive daily habit of appreciation.

2. Gift experiences: Sprinkle in some non-material items like experience gifts this holiday season. Children’s classes/memberships, an afternoon at the arcade, camping trip, one-on-one outing with you, sports or fair tickets, etc. Your child (and you!) will treasure the special memories for years to come.

3. Practice thankful language and appreciation daily: Your little one is always watching and mimicking what you do. You are your child’s role model! By practicing thankful, appreciative language throughout the day, you are helping your child to do the same.

4. Encourage help around the house: Realizing the effort behind certain tasks can help put things into perspective. Encourage age-appropriate participation around the house, such as prepping dinner, so your child can start to appreciate all the effort that goes on behind the scenes.

5. Turn interests into a good cause: Give back to the community by incorporating hobbies that your child loves. Does your child love baking? Volunteer as a family at a local food bank or bake cookies for a family in need. Or maybe your kiddo loves drawing or creative writing? Create get well cards or letters for a children’s hospital.

Most of all, keep it fun! With time, your little ones will be bringing you their own ideas for ways they can express their gratitude. 

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