Gratitude, like empathy, is an important skill that must be taught to children over time. There are many studies that have been done that show that practicing gratitude can increase happiness, improve self-esteem and reduces greed and materialism. One of the best ways for children to learn the important practice of gratitude, is to model it for them. Regularly sharing what you are grateful for, helps them to understand the meaning of gratitude and will help to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress they may be feeling.
Gratitude Sticky Notes--This is one of our favorite ways to mark gratitude. Grab some fun sticky notes (they have many shapes and colors now) and each night have everyone at the table write one thing they are thankful for. You can invite guests to your house to do the same when they come over. We stick our notes all over the dining room window and it is fun to see the windows get COVERED in blessings and thanksgivings.
Thankful Jar–For a few years we kept a Thankful Jar during the month of November but there is no reason you can’t have one going all year long. There are LOTS of examples of Thankful Jars on the internet and but I found this cute free printable from Mama Miss. Family members take turns writing down what they are thankful for and the papers go into the jar. Every once and a while pull out a few papers from the jar and remember those blessings from the past.
Gratitude Journals–When my children were small we kept a Family Gratitude Journal. Each day we would record the things we were grateful for in the family journal. Now that my children are older, we each have our own gratitude journals to mark the things we are blessed with. They are now working through their fifth journals and there are lots of different versions available. Many, like the one above, have plenty of space for younger children to draw pictures of what they are grateful for. You can find the journal above and many others on Amazon (this is not an advertisement) or make your own journals in a spiral bound notebook.
Goodnight Blessings–As you put your children to bed each night, ask them to share with you three things they are grateful for. You can then share three things that you are grateful for as well. Thinking about their blessings will be a wonderful way for them to drift off to sleep each night.
The Gratitude Game--We played this fun Gratitude Game from Teach Beside Me, last year at our Kids in Service meetings. I made our game out of colored popsicle sticks and it was a lot of fun to play with the seniors at the nursing home. You could keep this game by your dining room table and play during family meal times.
Gratitude Conversation Starters--These FREE Gratitude Conversation Starters by Creative Family Fun will be perfect for family meal times. I just printed out a set and cut them up and put the papers in a glass mason jar. I am so excited to use these as conversation starters to help continue to develop my children’s gratitude practice. There are twenty conversation starters in all and can be used again and again throughout the year.
Gratitude Scavenger Hunt–This great activity is from Let’s Get Together. My kids and I are planning to do it as a photo scavenger hunt but you do not have to. This simple activity encourages EVERYONE in the family to look closely for the blessings all around them. Click Here to head to their site so you can print out your own Scavenger Hunt.
Write a Thank You Notes--Have you thanked your parent or care giver lately? Have you thanked your teacher, your coach, bus driver or librarian for all they do for you? Did you recently receive a gift? EVERYONE loves mail! Bless one or more people in your life with a card or note thanking them for all they do to help and support you. This is a project for all ages, as the littles can draw and adults can scribe the note of thanks and gratitude. Make writing thank you notes a regular practice in your home. This simple activity will teach an important lesson in gratitude, respect and connection (not to mention it will help them practice their writing).