Activities to Teach Kids Gratitude
Gratitude allows us to celebrate the present and cultivate a higher sense of self-worth. It doesn’t just feel good, but it’s also good for our well-being and our children’s well-being. Now, more than ever, we are all fighting so many negative, stressful situations, and having a positive, grateful mentality can boost our ability to learn and make good decisions.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to instill a sense of gratitude in your children.
A THANKFUL BOARD OR WINDOW
Create a chalkboard wall, or buy some window paint and let your kids enjoy the activity of writing what they are thankful for. You can erase after the activity or leave it up for a “Thankful November” or even a Thanksgiving week of gratefulness. Seeing the words (literally) written on the wall will be a reminder of happiness at each glance.
CREATE A GRATITUDE JAR
Creating a gratitude jar is a simple activity that can make teaching your little ones about thankfulness and gratitude an easy task. Start with a simple mason jar, grab your crafting materials, and let the kids have fun decorating it. Once the jar is decorated, let the fun begin. Sit it somewhere accessible along with pieces of paper, pencils, and crayons for the younger kids. Then encourage everyone to fill the jar—be it with words, drawings, or both—with things they’re thankful for. At the end of the week, month, or whenever you see fit – pull out all of the notes and read them together as a family.
WRITE THANK YOU NOTES
The best part about thank you notes is that it doesn’t only need to happen over the holidays. This age-old tradition may not be as popular as it once was, but it’s an excellent way for kids to show their gratitude and say thank you to their friends and loved ones. Best of all, in a world full of online connections, your kids will love sending or receiving handwritten notes. When you drop the note in the mail, ask your child to picture how happy this person will be reading this special letter.
CREATE A GRATITUDE JOURNAL OR COLLAGE
Whether your kids are old enough to write or just to draw pictures, give each person a notebook and encourage everyone in the family to write or draw in it every day. Beyond simply entries, let them have fun creating collages with pictures from magazines, items from nature, or anything else that sparks a feeling of thankfulness or gratitude. This idea works well for kids who might not want to share their thoughts out loud all the time, but still have a lot to “say”.
You can turn any game into a game of gratitude. Starting with the simple board games or card games that you already own, just stick a simple rule in where you see fit. For example, when you’re playing Uno, make a rule that when you’re skipped you say something you’re thankful for. Or when playing a game of match or memory, make a rule for the winner to announce something that makes them happy. The point is to find a game that’s developmentally appropriate for your children and makes expressing thankfulness an interactive experience.
SERVING THOSE IN NEED
One of the best ways to teach gratitude is to show your children what they have to be thankful for, and how great it feels to serve others. As with most intentional gratitude challenges, this doesn’t only have to be during the holidays, you can regularly find opportunities to serve together as a family. As your children get older, have them offer ideas for ways or people to serve—such as collecting canned goods for a food bank, making a meal for a family in need, or raising money for a nonprofit.
This one is for the parents to teach gratitude and warm the hearts of the little ones all at the same time. Start by cutting out fall leaves, or hearts, or anything else, and sticking them on your child’s door every day. This will become an exciting activity for them to wake up every morning and read the new leaf or heart that you added with a sweet note on it. Not only will they feel appreciated and loved, but they’ll also see how happy it makes you to see them smile.
CREATE A FALL CALENDAR
Advent calendars aren’t just for Christmas anymore. Create gratitude notes and a daily countdown to thanksgiving. Each day before dinner, or even before the family starts their work and/or school day – spend a couple of short minutes connecting and reading it out loud. Starting the day off showing gratitude or ending it on a positive note can make a huge difference in your daily outlook on life.
Even if you don’t have it in you to pull off a full-blown activity in these stressful times, here are a few things you can do to incorporate gratitude into your everyday life:
- Have everyone share something they are thankful for at dinner each night
- While riding in the car or on a family walk encourage everyone to talk about what they see that they are grateful for. This will encourage your little ones to appreciate the small things.
- Pick a day of the week and have everyone specify one nice thing they will do that week.
Does this all seem a bit overwhelming with everything you have going right now – we can help. Contact Sugarplum Nannies to discuss your childcare needs and options.