Five Activities to Instill Gratitude in Your Children

As we discussed last week, gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. 

1. Make expressing gratitude a ritual.

You can’t expect gratitude to just appear. Just like the grass won’t grow green if you don’t water it. You must practice. 

Here are a few gratitude activities for kids that will help make gratitude a daily ritual:

  • During dinner, have each person sharing one awesome thing from their day
  • At bedtime, say three things you appreciate about each other and others in your family
  • In the car play a game where you say all the things you love
  • Every Sunday share one nice thing you will do for someone over the next week

2. Every Sunday share one nice thing you will do for someone over the next week

Invest in some window paint and have your kids write what they are thankful for on a window in your house.

You can wash off the writing when you’re done or have a thankful week where you add to it every day.

3. Write Thank You Notes

Think about someone you would like to thank, a coach, teacher, friend and then write a letter. If your child is too young to write, help them.

Ask your child to picture how happy this person will be reading this special letter.

4. Reading books about gratitude with your children is a great way to start a discussion.

Talk about how the characters feel and what it means to be thankful.

  • When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
    “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” In this imaginative take on that popular saying, a child is surprised (and disappointed) to receive a lemon tree from Grandma for her birthday. After all, she DID ask for a new gadget! But when she follows the narrator’s careful—and funny—instructions, she discovers that the tree might be exactly what she wanted after all
  • My Attitude of Gratitude 
    In this story you can learn what you can do if your child gets sad and upset because you won’t buy him a new toy? How can you teach him to be thankful for what he already has? In this story, Grandma teaches her grandson how to cope with unfulfilled desire by making a gratitude jar into which to put reminders each night of everything good that has happened during the day.
  • 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids
    A guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude for children. It is a self-exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have, the big things in life, as well as the simple joys.

There are links to these books below.

5. Gratitude jar. This is a simple exercise that can affect your well-being and outlook.

It doesn’t take much, only a jar, ribbon or stickers, cut up pieces of paper and a pen or pencil. And the most important ingredient, gratitude!

  • Step 1: Start by finding a jar or box.
  • Step 2: Decorate the container however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.
  • Step 3:  The most important step, which will be repeated every day. Have your child think of at least three things throughout their day that they are grateful for. It can be something like a favorite toy, or as deep as a hug from mom or dad. Have them write down what they are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.

Over time, they will find that they have a jar full of reasons to be thankful for and enjoy the life they are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks.

When your kids are feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind them of who, and what, is good in their life.

When we make it a habit to feel grateful, it makes us more aware of good things as they happen. Starting with these small, but meaningful activities, we can begin to instill an attitude of gratitude in our children.

I am grateful for all of you, so if you want to receive 6 free tips on how to help children cope with big emotions, sign up for my mailing list here.

Affiliate Links

When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree
My Attitude of Gratitude
3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids

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