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In keeping with the theme of gratitude this month, I decided to write this post with tips for instilling gratitude in your kids. I have been thinking a lot lately about how we, as parents, can raise more grateful kids.
Children are pretty much self-centered by nature. It’s not their fault, appreciation and gratitude have to be learned.
However, if we, as parents, do not begin to teach them from an early age, they can grow up to be selfish and entitled.
The other day, while thinking on this very theme, I sat down with my 4 year old son and explained to him what gratitude meant. Afterwards, I asked him what he was grateful for and he told me he is grateful for Winny (his teddy bear that he can’t sleep without) and for a heart full of love so he can love mommy and daddy and his little brother. I thought it was a pretty amazing answer.
According to this post: A Lesson in Thanks a study by psychologist Jeffrey Froh has shown that instilling gratitude in your kids has been proven to have many benefits such as: Higher levels of optimism, increased life satisfaction, and decreased negative feelings.
So, how can we, as parents, instill and maintain within our children a sense of gratitude and appreciation? Here are my top 13 tips for instilling gratitude in your kids.
1. Gratitude journal
I am a big fan of keeping a gratitude journal, which I wrote about in my post 14 Ways to Practice Gratitude Everyday. This is great for kids too, there are several gratitude journals specifically for kids such as the Printable Daily Positivity Journal for Kids.
2. Make a habit of sharing what they are grateful for
A good way to get your kids to really think about gratitude is by making a habit of having them share at least 2-3 everyday that they are grateful for. For me this is a great way to wind down the day.
I like to lie down with my son for a few minutes before he goes to sleep and to talk about the day and ask him what made him happy and what he is thankful for in that day. Don’t forget to share with them what you are grateful for too!
3. Have a gratitude jar
I love this idea. Basically, you just take a jar, you can decorate it and label it and put it somewhere where everyone can access it. Then everyone has to write down one thing they are grateful for everyday and put it in the jar.
You can do this for however long you want, you could establish a month of gratitude and set a day when you will all sit down and open the jar and read over all your notes together. Or, you can set up a year of gratitude, maybe each month you set a day to go over that months gratitude notes. Or, perhaps you wait the whole year and make it an end of year tradition or even every Thanksgiving day you will open the jar and go over that years notes.
Here is a great article about creating a family gratitude jar – How to Raise Grateful Kids by Creating a Family Gratitude Jar
The great thing about this is you can pick whatever works for you and your family, however you choose, it is bound to increase everyone’s sense of gratitude and positivity while bringing you closer together as a family.
4. Teach gratitude by example
Kids learn by example. They are always observing and copying those around them. So, the best way to teach them is by being their example. Be sure that you are always showing gratitude yourself. Always remember to say thank you and show your appreciation.
5. Make them work for things they want instead of just buying them whatever they want.
Unfortunately it seems that so many kids are getting accustomed to just asking for things and getting them. I believe this sense of entitlement really hinders their ability to truly appreciate what they have.
So, if your kids earn allowance, teach them the to save up to buy what they want, you can even give them extra tasks on top of their normal chores to give them opportunity to earn more.
If you don’t pay them allowance, then you can make a bargain that if they will help you out more with certain tasks then they can earn the thing that they would like.
Believe me, teaching kids the value of working for what they want will make them appreciate it a whole lot more.
6. Encourage them to help someone else
It could be a friend, family member or a neighbor. Especially if you have an elderly neighbor or family member that could maybe use help with some small tasks like helping them carry in their groceries, rake leaves in their lawn, maybe take their dog out to walk, etc.
7. Encourage them to donate
We all get to a point where we feel like we have too much clutter. As kids get new toys and books and things, or outgrow the old ones, why not encourage them to go through what they no longer use to donate to someone else that could use them.
Be sure to explain to them the importance of helping out others in need.
8. Teach them generosity
Kids are inherently selfish. I never realized this until I had kids of my own. Seriously, my son makes me laugh, whenever he has a special treat or something and I ask him to share, if he has a bag of chips or something, he will give me like 2 chips and then eat the rest and act like he was so generous. Or, if it’s sweets like cake or cookies he will literally give me crumbs. And if I ask for more he gets nervous. He is only 4 so I just laugh for now.
However, little by little he is learning. Before, he would never even offer to share. Now, sometimes when I get home he will proudly tell me how he saved me something special and will bring some crumbs of something or some little piece of some treat he saved me.
9. Teach them to say Thank You
I have had to remind my son quite often to say thank you. He is starting to remember more and more on his own now, sometimes when we sit down to eat he will just say “thank you for the food mommy” all on his own.
However, when it comes to someone he doesn’t know very well, whenever they do something for him or give him something sometimes I have to remind him to say thank you as he gets shy or just forgets.
10. Write Thank-you notes
Since my boys are still little, we haven’t started this yet but I think it’s a great way to really get them to think about their gratitude and appreciation.
11. Say grace
If you are religious in any way, teaching your kids to say grace is a great way to instill a sense of gratitude.
12. Discuss current events and situations
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I want to protect my sons for as long as possible from the harsh realities of this world.
I know that is impossible. My son, being ever curious has been asking questions lately that make me realize it’s time to start talking about the not so pleasant things and turning them in to teaching moments.
As hard as it can be to have to discuss the difficult realities of others, learning about these situations can really help instill a since of gratitude and appreciation for what they have.
13. Read books about gratitude and discuss
There are so many great books out there about gratitude. For example:
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
Thankful by Eileen Spinelli
Thanks from the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Thank You Book by Mo Willems.
The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood
All the World By Liz Garton Scanlon
An Awesome Book of Thanks By Dallas Clayton
Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? By Dr Seuss
By instilling gratitude in your kids you are setting them up to be more empathic, have an overall better outlook on life and to be more positive and happy people.
These 13 tips for instilling gratitude in your kids are simple and easy to implement in your everyday lives. Not only will practicing gratitude every day with your kids make them more positive and happy, it can also strengthen your relationship with them and and teach you lessons yourself.
The important thing is consistency, making sure it’s a daily habit to always Practice gratitude with your kids.
I hope you have found this post helpful, if so, please comment below. Let me know, what are some of the ways you use to instill gratitude in your kids?