Practical Everyday Ways to Raise Grateful Kids
This time of year we tend to think about gratitude a bit more. Maybe it’s Thanksgiving, or maybe it’s the entire holiday season. It’s usually a time when people come together more than any other time of the year. It’s also a time, when as a parent, I’m reminded of what I hope and pray my kids will learn and put into action as they grow up within our family unit.
The world as we know it is in kind of a sad state right now. Sometimes it seems hopeless. There’s so much fighting, so many misunderstandings, so much miscommunication, so much division. It’s easy to think of only the negative and forget all the things we have to be thankful for. But there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
As parents, one of the most important concepts we could ever teach our kids is that of gratitude. It’s the art of saying ‘thank you’, it’s an act of appreciation, a very meaningful way to spread love. Gratitude is a shining light in a seemingly dark and thankless world.
Start with a Simple ‘Thank You’
Just start by saying ‘thank you’ and teaching your children to say ‘thank you’. It’s such a simple way to spread joy and light to a fellow human being.
Write Thank You Notes
Celebrating a birthday party where friends brought gifts? Maybe it’s a wedding shower or a baby shower. Write thank you notes. Teach your kids to write thank you notes. A simple handwritten gesture means you took the time to think about each gift and the person who gave it.
Show Love and Appreciation to Your Kids
Kids do the cutest things and honestly, the most heartfelt things. Thank them for the things they do. Example goes a long way.
Read to Your Kids
A history book is filled with stories of why we should be thankful. Teach your kids both the good and the bad parts of history. Read with them about the Holocaust, about slavery, about wars, about the Great Depression… Teach them family history. Talk with them about these things, and leave these topics open for discussion anytime.
Travel and/or Volunteer with Your Kids
Travel with your kids, exposing them to other cultures, people groups, and places in both your own country and the world, if possible. Learn the history of the places you travel. If travel isn’t possible and maybe even if it is, find somewhere local to volunteer with your kids. We’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to volunteer in a local community garden in the past. Find something you can do with your kids that will help make a difference in someone else’s life.
Tackle Projects with Your Kids
By projects, I mean life-changing projects, things that will teach them how to give and to be generous. Fill a shoebox at Christmas time, find a child to sponsor, invite another family into your home for dinner, raise funds or gather supplies for disasters and things that come up throughout the year… These are just a few of many ideas. (
Make Your Kids Work
Give them chores to do. Plan projects to work on together. It’s good for kids to learn how to work and to develop a good work ethic coupled with a variety of interests. Through helping cook dinner, they may develop a love for cooking. Through helping plant a garden, they may develop a love for botany or sustainability. Through older kids helping take care of younger kids, they may develop more love and patience, always good qualities to have.
Teach Your Kids to Care
Teach them to care for others, to have both empathy and compassion. Also, teach them the importance of taking care of one’s things. Teach them the value of a dollar, and help them learn how to save.
Start a Gratitude Journal
I’ve personally done this in the past, but the more I think about it, the more I’d like to help my kids start a gratitude journal, as well. Have them list 3 or more things they’re grateful for each and every day.
Don’t Give Them Everything They Want
This is a biggie, and I get it… It’s tough. It’s ok to say no. Giving our kids everything they want is the kind of reinforcement that can lead to a sense of entitlement. It’s ok for them to learn that we don’t always get what we want in this world. Not getting everything we want leads to a greater appreciation for the things we do have, and not only that but even more importantly, the people we have in our lives.
Say ‘I Love You’ Every Single Day
Those three words mean the world to our kids. Say it all day every day. We honestly can’t say it enough. When you get up, as you go through your day, before you go to bed, before you or they leave the house… Don’t forget to say I love you. Those words from your mouth will stick with them forever, through good times and bad.
Share your tips for teaching kids to be grateful. We want to hear them!