As the holiday excitement settles down and your kids find themselves surrounded by a pile of presents, January brings a chance to slow things down. It’s a perfect time to teach them to appreciate what they have and instill the value of gratitude.
Research shows that gratitude has powerful effects on the brain. Better sleep, less anxiety, improved relationships, and higher self-esteem are some benefits of practicing gratitude.
The best part is teaching gratitude to kids doesn’t need grand gestures or big words. It’s about simple activities that help them appreciate the good things in life, no matter how small.
As we ease into the new year, let’s cultivate gratitude in our kids, setting the stage for a positive and thankful mindset. Here are some gratitude activities for kids:
Read Books About Gratitude
A great way to teach your kids about gratitude is by reading children’s books focusing on being thankful. Look for stories that talk about appreciating the good things in life, like the following:
- The Thank You Book
- We Are Grateful: Ostaliheliga
- Thank you, Day!
- Gratitude Is My Superpower
- The Thankful Book
When you read these books together, it’s a fun way to start conversations about gratitude. Pick books that match your child’s age and talk about the characters in the stories who are thankful. These stories often share important lessons in a way that’s easy for your kids to understand.
By making gratitude books a part of your reading routine, you’re helping your kids learn valuable lessons that will stick with them as they grow.
Create a Gratitude Jar
An effortless and hands-on way to teach your kids about gratitude is by making a gratitude jar together. Here’s how: Find a used jar or container and decorate it with your kids using 3D Puffy Stickers, markers, and colorful paper.
It could be anything – from a yummy dinner to a sunny day or a hug from grandma. Fold the paper, toss it in the jar, and watch it get filled with happy memories! If you see your kids doing something you’re thankful for, like homework or helping with chores, you can also write a note and add it to the jar.
Once the jar is full, you can read the notes together as a family. This simple activity helps your kid express gratitude and foster a positive and thankful mindset.
Create a Family Gratitude Challenge
Get the whole family involved in learning about gratitude with a fun Family Gratitude Challenge! Every week, challenge yourselves to find things to be thankful for. Here are a few ideas to get you going:
Thank You Detectives
Write thank-you notes to anyone who makes your day brighter, from the mail carrier to the grocery store cashier.
Here’s a pro tip: Use Scratchy Scratch Notes to make writing thank-you cards even more fun!
Find five tiny things to be grateful for in the park, like a fuzzy caterpillar, a small ladybug, or a sparkly spiderweb.
Play a game where everyone shares something they’re thankful for, or try “I Spy,” but with things you appreciate, like “I spy a warm hug!” or “I spy a bedtime story!”
Random Acts of Kindness
Do something nice for someone you don’t know, like leaving a flower for your neighbor or making a thank-you card for the school janitor.
Keep track with a chart or silly stickers and celebrate every completed challenge together! By turning gratitude into a playful adventure, your kids will discover the joy of appreciating the good stuff around them.
Turn Complaints Into Something Positive
Teaching your kids gratitude can be as simple as turning complaints into something positive. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, encourage them to find the good in challenging situations.
If they’re upset about a rainy day, help them see the positive by praising the cozy feeling of being indoors with a favorite book or movie. If they complain about homework, tell them it’s a chance to learn new things and become smarter.
This simple trick helps your kids learn gratitude and be more thankful.
Work Through Feelings of Envy
Help your kids learn about gratitude by talking about envy. If they want something their friend has, remind them to appreciate what they already have. Share stories about feeling happy for others and teach them to celebrate others' wins, turning envy into shared happiness.
When you work through their feelings of envy, you’re teaching your kids the value of contentment and gratitude.
Donate to Charity
Lastly, teach your kids about gratitude by donating to charity. When they give their toys, clothes, or a little from their allowance, it helps them see the joy in giving. Talk about why it’s important and how it can make a positive difference for others.
In a world of “more, more, more,” nurturing a grateful heart in your kids can be a superpower. Simple activities like making a gratitude jar or reading books about gratitude plant the seeds of thankfulness early. As your kids grow up, they’ll have a lifelong appreciation for the little things.