Teaching Gratitude

Several years ago, we started a simple Thanksgiving tradition in our home. Before we begin our Thanksgiving meal, we each take a turn sharing about the things for which we are grateful. The tradition has grown so that we do it more often because we love to hear each other’s answers. Along with the normal dinner table questions of “how was your day,” we also ask “what are you thankful for today”. Developing a grateful attitude will help you feel happier and more content with your life. Children will learn to feel more content, to appreciate what they have, and to think about the feelings of others as they practice gratitude. Here are some suggestions to help you cultivate and teach your children gratitude.

Sow It, Reap It

Starting young, help children see the effects of their attitude. Having a grateful attitude brings happiness. Help them recognize how they feel. Point out to them when things work for their benefit because of their attitude, such as having their morning run smoothly or getting through homework easier. Children very naturally spread happiness. Help them see the positive impact they have on others. Let them know how happy you feel when you see them smiling and enjoying life. Help them identify when others have a positive impact on them.


Involve your children in service. Service is an amazing teacher and a binding thread in relationships. They’ll learn that others have experiences different from their own. Gratitude will come for the person or thing that they are serving. They’ll learn to feel thankful for what they have. You can teach your children how to find reprieve from their own problems by involving them in service.

Work for It…Take Care of It

Few things make a mom prickle like hearing their child demand or act entitled for something. It seems that the more instantly gratified we are, the less gratitude we feel. Children will learn appreciation for their possessions, their talents, and others as they work for them. It is okay if your children do not always have the best, top of the line everything click now. Patience, tolerance, and satisfaction come from taking care of what we have. From children helping maintain your home, to doing extra chores for a toy that they want, and teens working to fund their activities, they will learn to appreciate what they have.

Show and Tell

Create opportunities for your children to express their gratitude, such as by thanking others, through prayer, having family discussions, journaling, serving others, and traditions. For example, children will learn how to express their appreciation by learning to write thank you notes. Teach them to be generous with kindness, and tell your children about the gratitude that you feel. They will love to hear that you are grateful for them!

Appreciate the Positives

Practice with your children how to notice and appreciate the positive things in life. By talking with your children about the positives, they will learn gratitude and feel more satisfied. No matter how small, we can find something positive if we look for it. The greatest lessons and blessings of life often come from trials. Good luck in being a character role model and teaching them to cultivate gratitude.