Teaching and Practicing Gratitude


I think it’s a common thing for parents to want to instill an attitude of gratitude in their kids. Especially since November has arrived and the Christmas season is right around the corner. Kids (okay, even adults) can get too caught up in the holiday fun of receiving so much so that gratitude can become a bit of an afterthought. Or it can seem like a struggle to get your kids to focus on being grateful rather than just compiling long wish lists.

In our house, my girls have already started pouring over any and every catalog that comes in the mail. They stare at the pages and dream of what things they want to add to their toy collection. It’s kind of cute to watch these little girls dream and see what catches their eye. But it’s funny how even at a young age it’s so natural and easy for them to want more. I have never had to teach them how to ask for more or want more. Being grateful on the other hand is something that takes a bit of practice and teaching.

While that may seem like an overwhelming concept to teach, it doesn’t have to be. Start simple conversations with your kids and allow them to share things that they are thankful for. There are many ways that you can have those conversations, especially around Thanksgiving. Here are a few thoughts for you to consider trying this season.

Teaching and Practicing Gratitude | Duluth Moms Blog

ABC’s of Thanks

This family tradition from my childhood is one I love doing with our kids now. Every Thanksgiving before we eat our family goes around the table and lists things we are thankful for starting with A and then taking turns until we end on the letter Z. It is a fun tradition and a simple thing that only takes a few minutes before our meal. Even the simple act of doing it before we eat shows puts being thankful as a priority. Oh, and if you wanted to be extra creative you could even try this gratitude activity with a certain theme like people, food, places.

Countdown to Thanksgiving

There are tons of possibilities to how you could personalize this one to your family. In the past we have made a simple turkey out of construction paper to hang up on our fridge. Then daily we add a different color feather to our turkey as we count down to Thanksgiving and on each feather we take turns writing down one thing we are thankful for. If you wanted to make a turkey for each member of your family you could do that or you could share one and take turns adding the feathers each day. Also you could do the same concept with a tree and fall-colored leaves too.

Another simple way you can do a count down is by making a classic paper chain out of construction paper. As you add a link to the chain each day you can write one thing you are thankful for and then by Thanksgiving you will both have a chain for decoration to use on your table or around your home and a reminder of what things you have gratitude for as a family.

If you aren’t feeling very crafty you could even simply have your kids write their own lists (or draw pictures) on a large piece of paper and display them somewhere you will see it often. Write out how many days until Thanksgiving and then be sure to add to it every day. Or simply write those things on a calendar that you already have in your home.

Say Thank You

This may seem simple, but make sure YOU and your kids take the time to say thank you. In your day to day life do you say thank you to those around you? To the person who holds the door for you, brings you a meal, gives you a gift, or even pays you a small compliment. Strangers, friends, family, and even your kids like hearing thank you. While it may be easier to be thankful around the holidays like Thanksgiving, it’s also important to practice ways to be thankful year round. And taking the time to say the two words “Thank You” is easy, but it makes a difference. Don’t just tell your kids to say thank you, show them what it looks like for you to say it as well. Use the season to help jump start having a more thankful attitude of gratitude in your home.

What are some ways you teach your kids to be thankful?