Teaching the Importance of Gratitude


The holiday season can be an opportunity to teach children to be grateful.  Children are never too young to learn about gratitude.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some great tips to help families and parents teach their children gratitude while creating a more joyful and stress-free home.

Talk about the best parts of your day! Try to find some time every day to talk about what you are thankful for. For example; at the dinner table, right before bed or while riding in the car. Try starting the discussion with a simple question, “what was the best part of your day?”

Encourage older children and teens to keep a gratitude journal! Gratitude journals have been shown to be an effective approach to helping children be happier: One study had 221 sixth- and seventh-graders write down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. Three weeks later, these students had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction compared to the kids assigned to list five hassles.

Say thank you! Encourage school-aged kids to say thank you throughout the day, especially when you help them get ready for school or drive them to activities. Have them thank coaches for practice and music teachers for lessons.

Be a grateful parent and lead by example! Consider this, how many times have you said thank you today? Have you told your children what you’re thankful for today? Children watch their parent’s every move. It will benefit your family to talk about the happy parts of your day, making a conscious choice to not complain. Teach your children about their past! Sharing your family stories about perseverance and hardship can help teach your children how to be grateful for what they have. If you’re not sure of your past consider taking a family trip to a history museum, a battlefield or a historic site. You can find all of these in every region of Tennessee. For example, the new Tennessee State Museum opened to the public in October, 2018. Admission is completely free. Click here for more information.

Allow older children to take care of younger children! Giving big kids responsibilities for little kids will start to help them have an attitude of gratitude towards their parents. Pair up big kids with little kids to get chores done or get through homework. School aged children can read books to toddlers or help them get dressed. Your older children will gain self-confidence and a sense of responsibility, and the relationship they build with their younger siblings will last a lifetime.

Monitor your children’s social media! Children now are bombarded with age-targeted marketing that they may be too young to understand. Media fuels materialism! It’s a parent’s job to monitor their media so they aren’t overcome with marketing and feel incomplete or unfulfilled.

Volunteer as a family! Every year, people across the state selflessly give their time, goods and services to communities in need. With excellent opportunities in a range of service areas to help children and their families, volunteers can strengthen our communities as a whole while teaching children to be grateful for what they have. Follow this kidcentral tn link for more volunteering opportunities across Tennessee.