5 simple ways to teach gratitude to your children

 teach gratitude

*This is a guest post

Saying “thank you” is something most of us learn in our early childhood. And now that we’re parents, it’s time to teach our children the same thing! But learning to say “thank you” and learning how to express gratitude are two different things. So how can we, as parents, make sure our children understand the importance of gratitude?

Saying “thank you” is something most of us learn in our early childhood. And now that we’re parents, it’s time to teach our children the same thing! But learning to say “thank you” and learning how to express gratitude are two different things. So how can we, as parents, make sure our children understand the importance of gratitude?

The answer is to teach them. And here, we’ll discuss five simple ways to teach gratitude to your children:

Why is gratitude so important for children to learn?

Before we get into how to teach gratitude, it’s important to understand why children need to learn about it. Believe it or not, research on gratitude in children wasn’t really conducted seriously until around 2005 or so. Since then, studies have linked learning gratitude at a young age to greater social support and even protection from stress and depression over time.

One study conducted in 2012 even found that people who practice gratitude on a regular basis exercise and attend scheduled medical appointments more regularly than people who don’t. All this to say that expressing gratitude could ultimately lead to a longer and healthier life.

In the present, teaching your children how to practice gratitude has a whole host of benefits. Some of those include:

  • Increased happiness during school
  • Better academic performance
  • Improved relationships with friends and family
  • Better sleep each night
  • Increased generosity and kindness toward others

Ready to learn a few exercises that can help your child learn to practice gratitude?

Start a Gratitude Journal

Gratitude journals are excellent tools to teach gratitude for people of any age. And there’s no need to fill an entire page of a journal each day, either. In fact, taking the time to write just three things you’re grateful for each day can be an excellent exercise.

If your children are old enough, consider gifting them a special journal to write in for this specific purpose. Sitting down as a family and sharing your entries with one another can be a great addition to your evening routine. And if your children aren’t old enough for their own journal, have them dictate to you. You can also have them draw pictures or choose stickers to add to your journal.

Craft “Thankful For…” Hearts

If you love crafts and have young children in the house, this is a great exercise to teach gratitude. For this exercise, all you’ll need is some felt or paper and whatever embellishments you and your children decide on.

Use your felt or paper to craft a bunch of hearts. You can add glitter glue or embellish them with pom-poms — have your kids decorate them however they choose. Once your hearts are complete, keep them in a central area. One by one, let your kids give them as gifts to people they’re especially thankful for.

It’s important to let your children choose who to give their hearts to; that choice will help them understand their personal feelings of gratitude.

5 simple ways to teach #gratitude to your children #parentingtips

Keep a Gratitude Jar

Gratitude jars follow similar guidelines to gratitude journals. And if you have a spare jar laying around, this is a perfect activity to start with your family.

Keep your jar in a central location with a stack of notecards or paper scraps next to it. When anyone in your family thinks of something they’re grateful for, all they need to do is write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. You can either set a recurring interval or wait until the jar fills up and then sit down together and read each entry aloud. It could be a fun family activity to guess who wrote each entry, as well.

Help Those in Need

Giving time to others in need is perhaps one of the best ways to teach gratitude to children. Finding opportunities to serve the community as a family can be hugely beneficial in teaching your children about gratitude. Even simple things like donating old clothes and toys can be a great way to help children understand gratitude.

Even activities like visiting elderly people in nursing homes or raising money for a charity you and your children care about can be great learning opportunities. These experiences will stick with them and will ultimately help shape the way they express and understand gratitude.

Be a Role Model

Children look up to their parents. They want to be like you! So the best thing you can do to teach them gratitude is to practice it. Be vocal about your gratitude. Include your children in the process of writing thank you notes and picking end-of-year gifts for teachers.Including your children when expressing gratitude for something or someone can make a huge difference in the way they model their behaviour.

In addition, you can help your children understand their relationships with others and with you. Talk to your kids about the personal value of their friendships and why their friends do nice things for them. This can help them better understand what gratitude looks like and feels like.

Gratitude isn’t something we learn overnight. It takes time, which is why it’s so important to start at a young age. These are just a few ways to start your children along the path to a full and grateful life.

Author bio

Matt O’Grady is a Success Coach, Author, Speaker, and Podcast host. He guides people from all walks of life to new levels of connection, serenity, happiness, and success while also managing the stresses and challenges of modern, daily life. 

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