Teaching children to be thankful does not require a grandiose act of generosity, sacrifice, or service. Instead, it has everything to do with how you live your day to day life, as children are constantly watching and reflecting as they play, grow, and learn.
How do you show you’re thankful?
Take a moment to think about how you demonstrate gratitude for the blessings in your life. Whether obvious, subtle, or non-existent, your children will follow your lead. If you want your children to feel thankful, start by showing you are. A great place to begin is by wrapping your child in your arms to tell him how thankful you feel to have him in your life.
Reflect on something wonderful.
Every night, I ask my children a simple question: What was the best part of your day? Their answer helps them reflect on a positive, wonderful aspect of their day and teaches them to feel thankful for simple, everyday moments.
Gratitude shout outs!
One of my favorite gratitude activities is to gather everyone in a circle and take turns shouting, “I’m thankful for _______ !” as loudly as we can. This energetic activity is exhilarating and inspiring.
Saying thank you.
Perhaps the simplest form of gratitude, saying thank you when a person does something thoughtful or kind should be an everyday habit.
Play the “Thankful Chain” game.
In this game, children take turns thinking of why someone or something is thankful for another someone or something. Example: Dogs are thankful for people who pet them. People who pet dogs are thankful for grass. Grass is thankful for flowers. Flowers are thankful for bees. Bees are thankful for summer. Summer is thankful for bare-footed children. Bare-footed children are thankful for sprinklers.
Live simply and graciously. Love wildly and unconditionally. Appreciate every sunset, belly laugh, heartache, and rainbow. Ask your children what makes them feel the same way. That’s how you teach children to live with gratitude. That’s how children learn to be thankful.