Teaching kids gratitude starts with our own attitude. The absolute best way to instill grateful hearts in our children is by example.
Whether it is showing and feeling gratitude towards another person or towards God, there are small (and big) ways we can do so. This starts in the heart, our own heart.
The following is not an exhaustive list, but rather a starting point. This is how we can both learn and teach gratitude in our homes.
Teaching Kids Gratitude
Give Thanks – This may be the most obvious thing we can do, but can often be overlooked in our busy lives. In prayer and out loud, express thanks to God for everything! You can do this at the dinner table when saying ‘grace’ and when you say bedtime prayers, of course.
But you should also do so in unplanned, random moments — express thanks to God for the joy in your day, the strength He has given you, the child at your side. Your children will learn to see blessings in the ordinary and to Whom thanks is owed.
Say “thank-you” – Again, an obvious but important way to teach our children gratitude is by saying “thank-you” to them and others around us for acts of service. Children need to know you appreciate them and are thankful for them.
Knowing you are grateful for them and their efforts will help them know the importance of them having (and showing) gratitude towards others.
Show Gratitude – In thanks to others for their kindness towards you and your family, take the time to show gratitude with more than just words of thanks. Bake a cake to bring to them as a gift of gratefulness. Help others in their time of need. Hand write personal notes of gratefulness and mail them to those who have blessed you.
Include your children and let them take an active role in the gratitude you/they have for others. Taking the time to serve others because you are thankful for their presence in your life shows gratitude from the heart.
Count Blessings – Intentionally point out blessings throughout the day. Literally spend time with your children counting everything you are thankful for. Go so far as to have a ‘gratitude journal’ that you have handy every day to jot down blessings that either you or your children think of. Take it out every so often and read the blessings you have recorded to remind them and yourself of how blessed you are and then practice the above steps of giving thanks to God, saying “thank-you” to your children, and showing gratitude to others.
Practice Gratitude Today
- Pray out loud with your children expressing gratitude to God for His grace and for your children (get specific, what is it about your children you are you most thankful for?).
- Use words to let your children know when you are grateful for their efforts – say “thank-you” often!
- Use actions to show gratitude to your children and others. Do something kind and unexpected for your child (help them with a chore, invite them to spend time with you doing something they enjoy) and let them know you wanted to show them you are thankful for them. Talk about how someone has blessed your family and how you want to return the favor and then excitedly choose an act of service you can do as a family to show gratitude!
- Write it down! Use a blank notebook, a special gratitude journal, or sign up to receive the printable journaling pages in this post to practice gratitude while recording blessings big and small that you and your children discover throughout the day.
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Parenting is hard work, but it provides us with a lot of opportunities to learn and grow as God’s children while raising children for God. Read more parenting articles full of practical tips & encouragement for your parenting journey at my blog.
Clarissa R. West is a Christian, Wife, Homeschool Mom to 7 Children with Medical & Special Needs, Grieving Mom to 1 Child in Heaven, Homemaker, and Writer. You can find her at ClarissaRWest.com sharing practical tips & encouraging others to count blessings, seek joy, and find strength in Jesus.