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5 Ways on How to Cultivate Gratitude in Children

Teaching our children gratitude is by far the toughest and most challenging part of parenthood. It is a concept that can only be explained by actions and is a little difficult to make the little ones understand it through words.

This is especially tough because children are pretty self-centered, but in a good way, they have their own world and prefer things to work in their favor. But knowing how to cultivate gratitude among your kids while they’re still young is very important as it sets the pillar stones for your child to be sensitive and empathetic towards others. It also makes them less demanding and more understanding.

In fact, experts and research show that being grateful actually leads to happiness.

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Teach Children Gratitude

Babies as young as 16-18 months old begin to understand the fact that they are being taken care of by others and that their parents are doing everything to protect and nurture them. It is the beginning of the foundation of teaching them appreciation.

By the time they are toddlers, they know what they are thankful for – the mouth-watering chocolate ice cream, their favorite toy, or their parents. And, by the age of 4, these tiny humans can understand that gratitude is more than just things and people. It is about kindness, love, and the act of giving.

Understanding and learning gratitude is a lifelong journey. Even adults need a lesson and reminder on gratitude every now and then. But starting them early can definitely help you raise grateful kids and make them less entitled and more grounded.

So, here are 5 simple activities that you can do to teach kids and help them understand the concept of gratitude. In the end, all of us want to raise a happy and grateful child!

5 Simple Activities on How to Cultivate Gratitude in Children

Teaching children about gratitude in the context of donating or gift-giving is a valuable lesson that fosters empathy and appreciation. Emphasize the joy of giving and how it feels to make someone else happy through a thoughtful gift. Be a role model by showing gratitude for the things you receive. In this way, children learn that giving and receiving are opportunities to show appreciation and strengthen bonds with others. 

Here are the different simple activities to teach gratitude to your children:

1. Making a Gratitude Jar or Tree

How to raise more grateful children

When it comes to children, visuals are better than just concepts. That’s why a gratitude jar or tree is the best way to teach your kids to be grateful.

You can either choose to make and decorate a gratitude tree with your child or create a simple DIY gratitude jar.

You can write a positive affirmation on the jar or paste a post-it on it to remind everyone.

Every day, each family member has to write about one thing they are thankful/grateful for on the tree’s leaf or a note and drop it in the jar.

Expressing gratitude for everyday things is a great way to maintain a positive attitude towards daily life.

Usually, young children need a little nudge, but once they see the rest of the family doing it every day, they will want to do it. Kids learn from examples, so make sure you do the activity every day without fail.

The best part about this activity is finding out about the things your kids are grateful for.

Children have an open mind, and you would be surprised with what they have to share and maybe even learn a thing or two from them.

You can make the activity even more exciting by choosing a day in the week, where the whole family sits together to read everyone’s notes. It could be like a thing you do as a family or a weekend tradition.

2. DIY Art as a Gift

Gifts for kids offer a lovely means of expressing affection, marking special occasions, and creating enduring memories. When choosing presents for children, it’s crucial to account for their age, preferences, and requirements to guarantee enjoyment and suitability.  

However, it’s worth emphasizing that children should also understand that gift-giving doesn’t necessarily entail purchasing items. Showing gratitude is best when the gift comes from the heart and hard work.

Holidays are the perfect time to teach your kids how to express gratitude. All you need is to invest some time with your kid for a DIY gift.

Tell your children that they should express appreciation towards a friend or friends they like by giving them a DIY gift this holiday season.

It could be something simple like a DIY card or a DIY sand jar. What matters is the time they invest in making something for someone else, and it is the best way to practice gratitude.

When you do something selflessly for someone, it is an act of kindness that will leave you feeling fulfilled and happy.

Set expectations and tell them why it is important to make gifts instead of buying them. You could help your kid with the DIY gift and, together, you can make a sand jar and add different colors to it.

Decorate it with a ribbon or bow and ask your child to leave a note for their friend expressing why they are thankful to have a friend in their life. In fact, you can foster gratitude by making some DIY gifts along with your child for your own friends.

3. Gift Boxes

This is another DIY activity. Children love celebrating birthdays and not just their own but their friend’s as well.

Make it a tradition for your child to make a card or DIY gift box for their best friend or even siblings’ birthday. When they take the time and effort to make something on their own, they will appreciate the smaller things in life more.

As parents, we should raise kids to make them understand that gifts need not always be expensive. What matters is the thought behind it and why you give the gift to someone. And making some DIY Gifts for kids is a fun and useful way to do it.

Ask them why they are making the card or gift for a friend. It teaches them to express and share, which is very important at this young age.

4. Donate Clothes and Toys with Your Children

Children grow out of older clothes faster than we can imagine. That is one thing that every parent finds frustrating! Make it a point to donate clothes they have grown out of and toys they might not be playing with anymore to kids who might need them.

Teach your kids to go through their things maybe once a year and put aside clothes and toys that they don’t need anymore but would make another child happy. Doing this together is a great way to instill generosity and kindness in young children.

Some kids hang on to things (Even we adults do it sometimes!), and when you involve them in something like this, it teaches them about separation and the happiness that comes from the act of giving. It is a great way to raise a thankful child that knows and understands they should be happy for having so much that they can share.

Teaching gratitude is not a one-day job. It might be hard for your children initially to let go of their things, but once they see the happiness it brings on another child’s face, it might be all worth it.

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5. Practice Gratitude Everyday

how to cultivate gratitude in children

Make expressing gratitude a part of everyday life. Many families have a tradition of expressing their gratitude either during dinner time or at bedtime. Whatever tradition or practice you follow, make sure you do it every day.

This routine will teach your child to think about what they feel grateful for because they have to say it when their turn comes. When you do it as a family and take turns to express, you model gratitude to your children.

This not only teaches children to be grateful but also to express their feelings. So, if they are in a bad mood or are upset about something, they will most probably share it with you during this everyday routine. It will also give them the confidence to share their feelings with their family.

It is a simple thing, a tradition you might be already doing as a family, but sometimes we never think of these things as a medium to teach our kids about being grateful. But as parents, we are learning every day, which is just the easiest way to show gratitude.

Moreover, instilling gratitude in children through volunteering and environmental protection, especially during Earth Day, is a powerful way to teach them about appreciating what we have and giving back to our community and the planet. Cleaning up a park or planting trees teaches children the importance of caring for the environment and being thankful for the natural world that sustains us.

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Raising Grateful Kids

As parents, it is our duty to raise grateful kids and at the same time be role models for them. When we teach our children to learn and express gratitude, we should do the same around the house with each other.

This helps kids understand that being grateful and thankful helps build connections with others.

Also, raising grateful kids has a silver lining! When children have a positive attitude, are kind and grateful, they feel happy and content.

When you raise grateful children, you automatically improve their physical health and well-being because a thankful child is a happy child.

Who doesn’t want a happy and grateful child, right? So, we hope that you find these activities on how to cultivate gratitude among kids helpful in your journey to raising more grateful children.


Enjoyed this article? Share it with the other mommas out there too! And don’t forget to check out our other posts on the blog.

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