Teaching Children Gratitude

When raising kids, it is sometimes a struggle to teach them gratitude. And while Thanksgiving is kind of an understated holiday (commercially speaking), stuck between Halloween with costumes and pumpkins galore and then Christmas with it’s tinsel, sleigh bells, and Santa parade, it’s definitely one of my favorite holidays and has such an important message. Thanksgiving and the month of November allow us as a family to focus on gratitude – something that I think we all can benefit from.

Sometimes with my kids I start to notice an air of entitlement. It’s hard not to for children – they see so much around them and rarely see everything else that is going on in the world (which is a good thing sometimes). My husband and I, as parents, have really tried to instill in our children an attitude of gratitude and an awareness of other people – especially those in different circumstances than our own. Sometimes we do better than other times, but here are some ways and things we have found that have helped our children and family. We’d love for you to share your ideas with us in the comments!


Thankful Trees: This is a tradition that is growing in popularity and you can find different gratitude tree printables online or you can easily make one yourself. We print off gratitude trees for each of us and a couple pages of leaves and every day we each write something we are grateful for on one of the leaves and glue or tape it to our tree. By Thanksgiving, our once bare tree is full of leaves and our hearts are a little more full of gratitude. Here are some printables we’ve used: 1. 2. 3.

Coat Collection: This is a tradition my sister-in-law started several years ago. She collects coats during the months of November and December and takes them to homeless shelters. We as a family clean out our old coats, gloves, hats, and scarves, and toys, gather some from neighbors, save money to buy some and donate them to those who don’t have any or are in need of new ones.

Refugee Awareness: Last year my girls heard a story of refugees and they wanted to know more. My husband and I told them about refugees and had them watch some news stories on the many refugee situations going on throughout the world. Right then and there, my youngest daughter went to her room, rummaged around for a minute and came back with all the money from her piggy bank and said “I want to give this to the refugees so they can buy food and homes.” Tears streamed down my face because she never hesitated – she went and did. With that money we started a refugee fund and with money that we get from grandparents, some that we earn, find, loose change etc. we put in our refugee fund (an envelope in our kitchen) and then use throughout the year for different things that the refugee centers around us need.

Secret Santa: Each December we pick families that need some extra help providing Christmas (this can be done through religious organization or community organizations like United Way). The families that have children, we have our girls pick out toys, coats, clothes and games for them – things they would like. We then wrap them as a family and deliver them. These are our favorite holiday season days.

These are just a few simple things we do, but we’re always looking for more ways to show, spread and teach gratitude. We’d love to hear your ideas and ways!

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