Teach thankfulness and gratitude all year long – that has become my covert mission. Not only do I want my girls to recognize the things they’re blessed with, I want them to realize that not everyone has the same opportunities and support that they do.
To me, thankfulness, gratitude, and grace are as important as teaching kids to respect themselves and others and how to disagree without the world falling apart.
So, on my quest to make thankfulness a natural thing, I’ve devised some ways to make them more aware of the things they have. Here are some of my tricks for teaching thankfulness and gratitude all year long.
How to Teach Thankfulness
Write Thank You Notes
There are plenty of opportunities to thank relatives and friends who give them gifts, but there’s a deeper sense of thankfulness that develops when they take pen to paper and handwrite a note.
I keep a box of pretty thank you cards on a shelf in the living room that they can use whenever they want to write a note. Sometimes it’s for gifts for their birthdays or the holidays, but more often than not, I’ll find them writing notes to thank a neighbor for a special treat or the owner of the local coffee shop for giving them a cookie.
I don’t worry about spelling or grammar, because their gratitude comes from the heart – and that’s more precious than correctly spelling “chocolate” any day!
As any parent knows, kids outgrow clothes and shoes faster than seems humanly possible. I swear my kids jump a shoe size overnight!
Instead of throwing things away, we make their outgrown clothes an opportunity to teach them about giving back and being thankful for the things they have. After we separate the clothes into the “Fits” and “Doesn’t Fit” piles, we carefully wash and fold all of the “Doesn’t Fit” items for donation.
Then, instead of just putting them in a donation box, we take them to the local women’s shelter and donate them there. The girls get to see the impact their donation has and it helps them realize (and be grateful for!) the many things they have in their own lives.
Talk Up the Little Things
One of the most effective ways I’ve discovered for getting my kids to be more thankful and have more gratitude all year long is simply talking up the little things.
For example, when my middle daughter was given a special eraser by a friend, we made a huge fuss over it. We didn’t make a fuss over the eraser, but over the fact that her friend had shown so much kindness and given her something that meant a lot to her.
We talked about how thankful we are to have good friends and how the little things that people do for us mean the most. That, of course, leads to discussions about ways that we can make others feel special too!
Teaching Thankfulness and Gratitude all Year
Teaching thankfulness and gratitude all year long makes it become a way of being rather than just a Fall holiday. It becomes ingrained in you to look for the things that you’re thankful for and let go of the things that weigh you down. For that, for the fact that I can teach my kids to put more gratitude in their attitudes, I am immensely thankful.
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