70 Ways To Teach Kids Gratitude

Drop the Entitlement and Make Room for the Gratitude!

As parents nowadays, I think most of us have encountered a conversation with other caregivers on entitlement, what that means, and how to avoid it. You’ve probably discussed ways to rear your children, ways to teach them patience, and to teach them what it means to be thoughtful of others – all in an effort to avoid that ugly “E” word.

But what about teaching them gratitude?

If there ever was a way to rear entitlement in the head, it’s to teach kids gratitude. To teach them they can’t do it all on their own. To teach them humility. To teach them that they need others to help them accomplish their goals. To teach them that true joy comes when we are serving, loving, and thinking of those around us.

So – that’s what we are going to talk about today. Research shows that the happiest people are the most grateful, and I believe that with all that I have. You want your kids to be happy, right? So let’s drum up some fun, thoughtful, and sweet ideas to teach them to be grateful!

70 ways to teach your children gratitude.

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We have everything from crafts, to books, to movies featured in this post – yep, you can thank us later! I’m telling you though, you are going to want to pin this baby right now! Thanksgiving is the perfect time to make a special effort to teach gratitude, but you are definitely going to want to remind yourself of these tips and ideas all year long. So make it easy on yourself to find it again, and pin it to a board!

This round-up post includes TONS of ways and tips to teach kids gratitude, like:

  • 20 Activity Ideas
  • 10 Craft Ideas
  • 20 Kids Books
  • 10 Movies
  • 10 Everyday Tips from the Divas

ARE YOU READY?

Ready…Set…Scroll!

20 activities to teach your kids gratitude.

Let’s get started today with some awesome activity ideas to teach gratitude!

Activities to teach kids gratitude.

1. The Turkey Ticket – Using some cash register paper rolls, keep track of all of of your many blessings – and watch the list grow, grow, grow with each day!

2. Smile It Forward Cards – These cute cards are such a fantastic way to spread some sunshine. Drop the darling cards in public places, or give them out to strangers. So fun!

3. The Cheer-Up Kit – These Cheer-Up kits are so darling! Not to mention, a fantastic way to teach your kids to be grateful for all they have, and to think of others during their struggles.

4. Join The Gratitude Graffiti Project – What a fantastically FUN idea! Dedicate a public space where people can share their gratitude. You can join the Facebook group to get some inspiration, too!

5. Thanksgiving Time Capsule – What a creative idea! Have the kiddos write what they are grateful for, put it in a jar, and bury it in the backyard to dig up and add to next year!

Use these fun activites as a way to build gracious children.

6. The Birthday Party Re-Vamp – In lieu of gifts, you can request for attendees to bring an item to donate; coats, old toys, books…or whatever else their little heart desires to give to a shelter! How thoughtful is that?!

7. The Kindness Elves – If you’re searching for an alternative to Elf on the Shelf, look no further! These cute little elves go around spreading goodness and the joy of giving. Fun!

8. The Gratitude Game – Anybody would love this fun little game! Punch a hole each day, and watch the gratitude grow in your home!

9. The Thankful Tree – Create a super simple tree, and add some new “leaves” (AKA…things are you grateful for!), each day. Watch the tree bloom and grow all month long!

10. Gratitude Scavenger Hunt – We ADORE this idea! This scavenger hunt is sure to open up your kiddos’ eyes to all of the awesome-ness around them!

More activities to teach your kids about gratitude.

11. The Thankful Hot Spot – At the end of every day, gather your kiddos around a single chair, and seat a family member in it. Then, each person gets a turn saying something nice about the person in the chair, such as, “I am grateful for _______ because . . .” What a simple and sweet idea that could work all year long!

12. The ABC Thanksgiving Journal – This is a fantastic idea on so many levels – a great way to teach letters as well as to be grateful each and every day!

13. Nature Appreciation Walk – A simple idea that anyone can do, anywhere, anytime! Teach your children to be grateful for the miracles of nature… perhaps the ones that are all too easily missed!

14. Gratitude Pie Charts – Rather than a traditional “list,” these pie charts are a fun alternative and unique way to look at all of the wonderful blessings that are around us!

15. Gratitude Conversation Starters – We LOVE conversation starters, so it’s no surprise that we think these prompts are awesome!

New ideas to teach your children about gratitude.

16. Family Gratitude Jar & Journal – What a fun way to record all that you are grateful for! I love how she strung them along a banner, too!

17. Write “Thank You” Notes – Cute, kid-friendly thank you card template included with this thoughtful idea!

18. Sticky Note Door Hanger – A super simple DIY! Kids can write something they are grateful for – and then change it daily – on sticky notes that are attached to this cute door hanger!

19. Gratitude Lists – These creative notes are a fun alternative to the traditional “gratitude” list!

20. A Thankful Heart – Give away these darling fabric “hearts” to show your gratitude to all of those who help you or need a smile!

10 Crafts to teach kids gratitude.

Calling all crafters – boy, do we have a section just for you! Here are some great crafts you can do to teach kids gratitude!

21. Gratitude Stones – These sweet stones have so many uses, and they are so simple to make

22. Kindness Cootie Catcher – This idea is great for kids of ALL ages! Depending on your kid’s age, write different acts of kindness under each flap! As they play with friends, they can perform those acts together.

23. Gratitude Boxes – These darling little boxes are a great craft for any age, and work perfectly as a gift for children to give to their loved ones.

24. The Thankful TurkeyThis Thankful Turkey Book is the perfect opportunity to let your child explore through writing and drawing what is important to them… and you may be surprised by your kiddos’ answers!

25.  A Gratitude Board – If you know and LOVE Vision Boards, you are going to adore this Gratitude Board idea, too!

Unique crafts that teach your children about gratitude.

26. A Wall of Blessings – I’m loving this gorgeously visual display of all of our MANY blessings! What a fun Thanksgiving decor idea!

27. Gratitude Pumpkins – Easy enough for the kids to make on their own, and they only take a few minutes! A fun way to really drive home all that we have in our lives – perfect for Family Night!

28. Count Your Blessings Tree – Such a darling free printable! Fun to frame around Thanksgiving, or even for a private journal entry. Gorgeous!

29. Finger Print Thank You Notes – I love the idea of kids writing thank you notes… it’s a dying art, and one that is so important! Put your kiddos’ personal “stamp” on this fun idea!

30. The Thank You Bank – This cute little “piggy bank” of blessings is just too great of an idea, and easy, too!

20 Books to teach kids gratitude.

What’s better than snuggling with kiddos and reading a story?! Not much! These are some of our FAVORITE books for little ones, all about gratitude!

Books to teach kids gratitude.

31. The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein – ‘Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy.’ This book is an absolute classic, and makes me cry… every single time!

32. Small Blessings by Erica Becker – What a charming book, and great reminders of all we have to be thankful for.

33. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness with Kids by Carol McCloud – Teach your kids how truly rewarding it is to serve others with this fun idea of a book!

34. The Blessings Jar by Colleen Coble – Our blessings always outweigh the bad in our lives. We have so much to be grateful for!

35. You Get What You Get (Little Boost) by Julie GassmanRaise your hand if you heard over and over again, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset!” from your parents! Ha! The classic and fun little phrase gets a sweet twist in this unique book.

Books about gratitude.

36. Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson – You NEVER know what good you will do when you start an act of kindness!

37. The Most Thankful Thing by Lisa McCourt – The relationship between child and parent is indeed a special one, and this book is all about celebrating the love that comes from that!

38. Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts – The things you want aren’t always the things you need. Wise lessons from this sweet kids book!

39. Just So Thankful (Little Critter) by Mercer Mayer – I lived for Mercer Mayer books as a kid, and this one is just so perfect for the Thanksgiving season.

40. Bear Says Thanks (The Bear Books) by Karma Wilson – This sweet story reminds us that we always have something to give to others, even when you think you don’t!

Books that emphasize the idea of gratitude.

41. Thank You, God, for Blessing Me by Max Lucado – As a mom of young kids, I always take note when something has a “board book” option. Your babies and toddlers will love this one and all it has to teach us!

42. The Berenstein Bears Thanksgiving Blessings by Mike Berenstain – Warm fuzzies from my childhood with the Berenstein Bears! This charming story always reminds us that we have something to look forward to and be grateful for.

43. ‘Twas The Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilkey – This silly story is sure to make your little ones giggle!

44. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss – “When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad . . . you should do what I do!” Dr. Seuss always had such wise words to share!

45. I’m Thankful Each Day! by P.K. Hallinan – This colorful book reminds us that we need to be grateful for all of the details… even the tiniest ones!

Use books to discuss the topic of gratitude with your children.

46. Thankful Together by Holly Davis – Every day has sweet moments that always can bring us joy – we just have to know where to find them!

47. Thanks for Thanksgiving by Julie Markes – Life is full of pleasures, and the greatest one of all is sharing them with family.

48. Gratitude, More Than Thanks! by Chaim Gold – Teach your kiddos how to be content, as well as grateful, with this charming book.

49. Gratitude Soup by Olivia Rosewood – Your little chefs will love this “cooking with gratitude” rhyming story!

50. Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland – Celebrate the day that’s dedicated to… giving!

 10 Movies to teach kids gratitude.

Some of our favorite movies also happen to be the ones teaching about gratitude, and giving all you have to those around you. LOVING this list – these are all perfect for family night!

Movies to teach kids gratitude.

51.  The Pursuit of Happyness – Tear-jerker…every time! This fantastic film is sure to remind you to be grateful for all of those times when you thought you couldn’t do it anymore, but just kept pushing anyway. An inspiring story, to say the least.

52. Pay It Forward – Okay…another tear-jerker, right here! This film from 2000 reminds us that we never really know the good we’ll do until we start doing it.

53. Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving – What’s Thanksgiving all about, anyway? Charlie Brown has the answer, as always!

54. Freaky Friday – Think everyone else has it made but you? Think again! You never know what someone else is going through until you walk in their shoes…literally.

55. The Ultimate Gift – Life requires hard work, and relying on the relationships of others to pull us through. The Ultimate Gift reminds us that we must be humble to learn and grow, and always be good to others – always!

Movies that emphasize the idea of gratitude.

56. Split Infinity – I’ll admit, I hadn’t ever heard of this movie until fellow Diva Becca suggested it…and it is fantastic! So many people do so much without it ever being known – there really are angels among us!

57. A Little Princess“I am a Princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they live in rags. Even if they aren’t pretty, or young, or smart, they’re still princesses. All of us! Didn’t your father ever tell you that? Didn’t he?” One of my favorite quotes! A Little Princess teaches us that we always can uplift and inspire others, no matter what hardships we’ve been through.

58. A Mile In His Shoes – This movie really drives “home”{no pun intended!} that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they can’t be a talented and incredible person. Perfect for family night!

59. The Blind Side – Sandra Bullock stars to remind us that we always have something to give, and that there are amazing people out there who need us to stand up for them.

60. Mr. Holland’s Opus – So many people shape our lives – teachers, friends, and family. Often, these people sacrifice everything – even their dreams – to support us in ours. Such is the case for Mr. Holland! A must-see for anyone in the arts!

Tips for Raising a Grateful Child

Finally, we have some of our top-tips for you of little things you can do, each and every day to instill gratitude into your children’s hearts!

Tips to teach kids gratitude.

61. Weekly Thank You Notes – Let’s all take a note from Mr. Jimmy Fallon for a second, and discuss the dying art of “thank you notes.” How do you feel when you receive a “thank you note” in the mail? Warm and fuzzy, right? Let your children give that sweet feeling to those around them! It’s important for kids to know that others do so much for us, and that those acts need to be recognized. “Thank you” goes a long way, but the act of writing routine “thank you notes” weekly, or monthly, {or whatever works for you!} – is sure to ignite the fire of gratitude in your children’s hearts. Be sure to check out #29 on this list for a great idea on kid-friendly thank you notes!

62. Start Simple – Teaching gratitude is a lot simpler than you may believe…it all starts with “please” and “thank you!” Once they start saying these important words themselves, they’ll begin to realize all of the things people do for them on a regular basis.

63. Minimize Rewards – If we want kids to appreciate what they have, we can’t just give them everything they want without any effort involved on their part. Every kid loves sticker charts and finally earning things they want, so it’s an effective system, but try to remember that all they really ever want is you, and your time.

64. Make ‘Em Work – It’s so much easier just to do it yourself, right? (I can’t tell you how much time I spend re-folding clothes that my two year old so lovingly “puts away”) Well, when we leave our children out of the housework, we can run into entitlement problems. When we show them all of the effort that goes into making a house run smoothly (or…okay…not so smoothly, but running nonetheless), they learn to be grateful for the little things, like freshly washed sheets!

65. Bedtime Questions – This is the best part of my day. Bedtime in these parts is sacred! Not just because it’s the start of “Mommy & Daddy time” (can I get a whoop-whoop?), but also because we finally get to just chat one last time before bed. I really love these questions to ask the kiddos before bed; #2 and #9 are great ones to teach gratitude!

Ways to raise grateful children.

66. A Gratitude Journal – We know that writing things down is a great way to cement things into our memory, so can you imagine having a journal of all of the things you are grateful for? You’d be able to turn to it on those dreary days, and remember all of the blessings you have and enjoy; big and little. Taking time to do this with your children is a sure-fire way to increase happiness and gratitude in your home.

67. Don’t Buy Good BehaviorResearch shows that happy kids are intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically motivated, so teaching them that “stuff” = happiness may cause some issues for them in the future. This video also teaches us that intrinsic motivation is so, so fragile, and bribing kids into good behavior has so many downfalls for them, as well as their future. Bribery may work in the short term, but has some pretty damaging effects long term. As parents, I’m pretty sure we all do it in one form or another, so just be aware of it, try your best to avoid it, and keep on truckin’!

68. Be Grateful for the Good AND the Bad – Wise words from fellow Diva, Jess: If you are teaching your child to be grateful, then don’t miss the chance to express gratefulness when things are less rosy. Can you be grateful after a car accident in which no one was hurt? Can you be grateful for a rainy day because grass needs the rain?

69. Work Together as a Family – Do you know of someone in need? Get the whole family involved! Make sure the kids know WHY you’re doing what you’re doing. Whether it’s donating old toys to a shelter, or cleaning a widow’s yard – teach them about how to help others who are less fortunate.

70. Be a Role Model –  Our kids are always watching us…yikes! So be the good role model you know you are. Say please, say thank you, and be kind. We all know that the best way to teach is by example, and teaching gratitude is essentially no different. If you feel it in your heart, your kids will pick up on that. At the end of the day – that’s all you really need to know!

If you loved this post, be sure to check out 101 Things To Do With Kids Besides Watching T.V, or Teaching Your Children By Example.

About the Author: Catharine

The first time my husband saw me, I had whipped cream all over my face, and chocolate smothered all over my chef whites. He asked me out right then and there, and he didn't even know my name! Five beautiful years, two incredible kids, four teensy apartments, and a darling home later...he still sweeps me off my feet everyday! I am a true lover of travel, music, vintage fashion, classic literature, teaching, my faith, and midnight baking.

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