Raising Grateful Kids
Instilling Gratitude and Appreciation in Children
Set the Example Children learn much of their behavior by watching the adults in their life. To have grateful children we must first show gratitude. Thank others when they help you, regularly talk about the blessings you and your family have in your life, and thank your kids often. For example, if they were well behaved while out at dinner let them know how grateful you are. Kids love to be praised and will most likely strive to do whatever behaviors give them that positive attention.
Talk About Your Favorite Part of the Day Just before bed each night ask your child what their favorite part of the day was. Ask them what they were most grateful for. After they answer share with them what your favorite part of the day was. Talk about how much you appreciated whatever the great thing was. You can also do this around the dinner table each night.
Give and Donate Regularly go through your belongings as a family and donate unused or unwanted items to those in need. If your child starts to have an abundance of toys ask them go through and pick some to give to kids who are less fortunate. Talk to your child about why donating is special and helpful and how good it feels.
Volunteer Volunteering is a great way to fill a child's love tank and to reach out and help others. Volunteering also gives kids a direct look into the lives of those who may be less fortunate. Some great places for younger children to volunteer are nursing homes, soup kitchens, children's hospitals, and the library.
Marvel at the Mundane Being honest, my husband and I definitely overindulge at times. We love to enjoy life, and with that we love to enjoy the finer things from time to time. I think the key is to balance that indulgence with a genuine appreciation for everyday things that are wonderful and worth noting all around us. Take hikes as a family and marvel at the sunset. Talk about the trees and how beautiful they are. Sit out and look at the stars. Feel the breeze on your skin and point it out to your kids. If you regularly show appreciation and gratitude for the small stuff your kids will (hopefully) learn to do the same.
Actively Have Kids Show Gratitude Have kids thank the mail man by making him a card. Make cookies together and take them to the local police office. As a family participate in ten random acts of kindness. Actively having kids show gratitude ingrains the behavior in their core and also gives them the chance to feel the GOOD FEELINGS associated with doing for others.
Don't Over-Spoil I will be the first to admit I sometimes spoil my kids. They are just so darn cute, and I love them to pieces, BUT I know I am doing more harm than good. I am not saying you should never go all out on things for the kids, but if you regularly spoil them and shower them with whatever they want they will develop a sense of entitlement. Entitlement is pretty much the opposite of gratitude, so try to rein it in if you think you might be on the path to raising a spoiled child.
Start a Gratitude Journal A gratitude journal is a great way for kids to reflect daily on what they are grateful for. Young children can draw pictures of what they are grateful for while older kids can write entries. Here is a great resource for starting a gratitude journal with kids.
Gratitude Activity Jar I love this gratitude activity jar from Inner Child Fun. Valerie had her daughter write down everything she was grateful for, and then she had her pick small gestures to actively show her gratitude. This is a great activity, and one I look forward to doing with my girls.
Read Books About Gratitude There are lots of books for children that teach gratitude. Most kids love story time and therefore listen intently and absorb what is being read. Here are a few of my favorite books for kids that teach gratitude. You can click the affiliated photos to read a detailed description of each book and take a peak inside. All of these are available for purchase on Amazon.