Helping School-agers Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

Did you know that one of the most important things you can do for your child’s emotional, physical and social development and well-being is to teach them how to be grateful for the people and things in their life.

You can incorporate small easy habits into your daily routines that teach children gratitude that will shape and enrich their lives as well as strengthen their relationships with others.

  • Model thankfulness – thank people who help you. For example the person who bags your groceries, the waiter who serves your meal, the person who held the door for you.
  • Hand write thank you notes – children can do this for gifts and help they have received. One sentence per grade is a good rule of thumb.
  • Create a gratitude journal or jar – fill it with handwritten notes or drawings of things they are grateful for. Such as “I am glad grandma came to visit”.
  • Give credit where it is due – when your child accomplishes a goal, in addition to praising them point out who helped them reach that goal (a coach, teacher, friend).
  • Celebrate your year – every birthday, make a list of things you are grateful for that year.  A 5 year old can think of 5 things, while a 10 year old can think of 10 things.
  • Read books about gratitude – Check out All of Me! A Book of Thanks by Molly Bang, Emily’s Magic Words by Cindy Post Senning and Peggy Post, or The Secret of Saying Thanks by Douglas Wood.
  • Volunteer and help others together – children learn that the world exists outside themselves when they serve others.
  • Verbally express appreciation by focusing on key words – think of and use words such as blessed, lucky, fortunate, glad, content, pleased and joyful.

Remind children to be kind and have empathy for others. When they consider the needs of others and think about how someone responded to their kindness, it increases appreciation for that person’s kindness as well.  Children who learn to be grateful have a richer view of themselves and the world around them.