We shouldn’t focus on being thankful only when Thanksgiving comes around. There’s a lot more to understand what it means to be thankful and teaching gratitude to my kids is something I’ve felt is especially important. Having gratitude and having thankfulness as an adult I’ve found to be key in being successful and just having a general good well being in life.
As I plan to leave grateful children on this world, I’ve fostered way to instill this in my kids from a very early age. These 5 ways to teach your kids thankfulness are what I’ve found works best for us.
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5 Ways to Teach Your Kids Thankfulness
Model & Teach
We are our children’s first teachers so in many ways we should aim to exemplify those meaningful lessons ourselves. It’s just as the term goes “practice what you preach”, I like to express gratitude through words, writings and smalls gifts or acts. When my kids see me being thankful and having an appreciation for the things in my life, in an essence, I am leading by example ways in which they should also lead.
But it’s even more than just modeling, explain to them what it means to be thankful. You should highlight for them when they experience moments where they should be thankful. Express that having gratitude will show and build character and it’s a valued skill that we should all have.
I am a natural writer so it comes easy for us to reflect through our writing. A simple way to get your kids to begin writing about their thankfulness is to have them write small notes or drawings of thankfulness to family members. This is also great to incorporate during the holidays when members of the family you don’t see often are around.
Have your child write special notes to family members about why they may be thankful for them or what makes them special. In this activity, you are teaching your child a lesson, fostering creativity, while also making them think and express gratitude and kindness to others.
Try a gratitude journal for the kids and have them simply state things, acts, people or strengths they are thankful for.
Encourage their Strengths
All children have their own strengths and it’s our jobs as parents to encourage them. Let your kids know you are proud of them and you are thankful for them. Teach them to celebrate their strengths openly and use them to help others if they can. This opens up opportunities for your kids to do what they love while also showing gratitude towards others.
Teach them Teamwork
In our house, we are a team. While it’s absolutely important for the mental well being of everyone to have independence and time alone we also encourage working together. When your children work together with a sibling or family member they are not only learning the benefits of teamwork but also generosity.
Helping others and being generous are two key factors for making thankful kids. When children lend a hand, especially while using their strengths, they feel more connected to those they’re helping, which helps them to develop and nurture friendships and social relationships.
Make it fun
These life lessons of fostering generosity, gratitude and thankfulness shouldn’t feel like another mundane lesson. Most children (including mine) will respond better when you make it fun. During the holidays we like to make a thankful tree and let the kids highlight things, people and places they are thankful for.
Another way to make it fun for us is to shop for new toys for shelters, this is an actionable task for the kids with things they can see and touch that will uplift and help another kid. There are plenty of organizations that help children all year round and not just during the holidays. The act of making donations to others can leave your kids feeling excited to be giving to others without you being a sole dictator.
When children can see, feel and experience where their generosity is going it makes the lesson that much sweeter.