Do you want to raise grateful kids? Here’s what you need to do to teach children gratitude!
Every mom has heard the whining and complaining.
You know what I am talking about.
Little kids want it all and want it now!
This makes it hard for us, as parents, to patiently teach them to be happy and grateful for what they have.
Besides saving your sanity, when your kids have a grateful attitude there are tons of benefits!
Benefits of teaching gratitude to kids
- Gratitude increases happiness.
- Gratitude improves physical and mental health.
- Grateful people are less materialistic and selfish and more optimistic.
- Gratefulness decreases the need to compare and complain. You kids learn to be happy with who they are and what they have.
- Gratitude prevents you kids from judging others.
- Gratitude helps kids develop grit.
- Having an “attitude of gratitude” gives a positive outlook and increases peacefulness, thus reducing anxiety.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission at NO extra cost to you! Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
How to teach children gratitude
So, how do you teach your kids to be grateful?
As with many (most?) things parenting, the first thing you need to do is be an example for your kids.
Kids learn from your behavior.
Model gratefulness in front of your kids.
One practice that I use with my girls every night is to thank God for 3 good things that happened that day. Focusing on 3 blessings every day helped me tremendously when I went through a really difficult time in my life.
I’ve kept up this tradition and my kids and I have reaped the benefits!
2. Limit complaining
If you always complain and gripe, or compare your life (and how it falls short) with other people, then your kids will most definitely pick up on this.
When something goes wrong, try to look on the bright side. Focus on the positive!
Aww, it’s raining today so we can’t go to the park as we planned. How about we try that new cookie recipe instead?
I’m so disappointed that we can’t visit grandma today. Let’s Skype her instead.
Related: Calm down tools for kids
3. Don’t compare
The old saying: Comparison is the thief of joy, rings true here!
After my divorce, my 2 girls and I had to move to a very small 1 bedroom apartment. I was really sad about it!
It was hard seeing all of my friends with large homes and lots of other nice things that I didn’t have. I forced myself to not compare and instead to name 3 things I was grateful for every day (see #1). This helped me so much!
4. Point out generous people
Talk about people who are generous and giving, especially if they have good attitudes and are joyful people.
Point out the kind acts that you see people do every day.
5. Practice giving thanks
Talk about ways you can thank people – notes, smiles, high fives, words of gratitude…
One concrete way to do this is to regularly write thank you cards.
Since I was a very little girl, my mom encouraged my siblings and me to write thank you cards often and we grew up doing this. I still write thank you notes, especially for gifts.
Everyone loves to receive notes and to know that you are grateful!
Talk about how it feels to be grateful and how you feel when someone thanks you for something.
6. Talk about how different people live
Have discussions with your kids about how different people and cultures live and how other kids might not have what you do.
For example, some people have no running water in their homes.
I like this book – it gives a visual picture of how people throughout the world live, and shows how some have very little material possessions.
Don’t just give your kids every toy they ask for – help them learn gratitude by not spoiling them. Talk about how much they do have and how others are not as lucky to have what they do!
7. Do something to help others
As a family, find ways to donate your time, talent, and possessions:
- Volunteer together to help serve meals at a local homeless shelter.
- Collect toys to give to kids at Christmas.
- Save money and donate to a local community need.
8. Teach empathy
Teach empathy by talking about emotions and how other people feel.
A big part of being grateful and raising grateful kids involves understanding that we are connected to each other as humans and that we can touch the lives of others.
Related: How to raise kind kids
9. Give your kids responsibilites
Spoiled kids are generally not grateful.
Avoid raising entitled kids by making sure they learn to be responsible. One way to do that is by giving them chores.
Teach them the value of hard work. Show them that they need to work hard (and that you do too!).
Related: Age-appropriate chores for kids
10. Teach them to set boundaries
People who know how to set appropriate boundaries are able to give without getting burned out.
You’ve seen those people who give and give and give and eventually burn out? They don’t understand how to say an appropriate “no” when needed.
On the other hand, some people are merely selfish and just take and take and take.
Teach your kids how to keep in the middle by learning about boundaries – how to set boundaries and how to respect the boundaries of others.
Related: Teaching kids about boundaries
11. Keep a gratitude journal
One year when I was going through a really rough time, I kept a prayer journal and included a list of answered prayers. I used this to practice focusing on the good things in my life and practice being grateful.
One year, we started a “gratitude jar” and wrote little blessings on slips of paper throughout the year and put them in our jar (a tall glass). At the end of the year, we read them all out loud and thanked God for all the blessings of the year.
You can teach children gratitude! Help them reap the benefits of living a grateful life by following these 11 easy tips. Don’t forget to end each day naming 3 things you are thankful for! What things do you do to help your kids learn how to be grateful?