Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and many of us are thinking about what we’re grateful for. It’s an ideal time to help your child make gratitude a regular part of life. Studies have shown that children who are taught to be grateful see the following benefits:
- Reduced stress
- Increased happiness at school
- Better performance in school
- Fewer stomachaches and headaches
- Improved relationships
- Reduced materialism
Here are 15 age-appropriate ideas to help your child practice gratitude:
- Model gratitude, such as volunteering, saying please and thank you, complimenting others, or doing a good deed without expecting anything in return.
- Before bed or at dinner, share one thing that brightened your day.
- Practice looking on the bright side of things. For example, if your child is upset about a rainy day, talk about how much fun they can have making a pillow fort or reading their favorite books.
- At the beginning of the week, discuss some nice things you’re looking forward to doing for family or friends.
- Create a family gratitude list, where every family member can write down things they’re grateful for. Keep it in a prominent location so everyone can add to it when they have something they’re thankful for.
- Ask for help around the house in age-appropriate ways, such as setting the table or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
- Encourage your child to write a quick thank-you note to a teacher, friend, or someone they feel thankful for.
- Ask your child to draw something or someone that they’re grateful for.
- Explain to your child that some kids like them don’t have enough clothes or toys, and ask them if they want to help by choosing a toy or some clothes to donate.
- Set boundaries and stick to them. If a child can’t get their way all the time, they will learn to not take things for granted.
- When giving gifts, emphasize to your child why that gift will make the recipient happy. This will help your child connect gift-giving with compassion and caring.
- Read books about gratitude together, and discuss the story.
- Go for a gratitude walk. As a family, look around and point out the things around you that make you happy. This is an ideal way to help your child learn to respect nature as well.
- Help your child work through envy by encouraging them to highlight their own positive traits and skills. Remind them that everyone has different circumstances in life.
- Praise your child if you notice them doing something nice for another person, such as sharing a toy with their sibling, or holding a door open for someone.
These 15 ways to teach your child gratitude are just a few ways you can incorporate gratitude into your child’s daily life, both at Thanksgiving and year-round.