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Posted 10/31/2023 in Christian Mental Health Tips

Cultivating Character: Teaching Gratitude to Kids

Cultivating Character: Teaching Gratitude to Kids

Gratitude is an important life skill that can help kids be happier and more successful. When kids are grateful, they are more likely to appreciate the good things in their lives, even when things are tough. They are also more likely to be kind and helpful to others.

The Bible teaches us that gratitude is important. In 1 Thessalonians 5:18, the Apostle Paul writes, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus." This verse teaches us that we should be grateful for everything in our lives, both good and bad. When we focus on the lessons that we learn from erroneous choices, we are innately expressing our gratitude towards God. Gratitude is the spiritual love language that God emmensely enjoys receiving from mankind. Therefore we are in agreement with heaven when we have a thankful heart. The premise of gratitude is knowing we are expressing our love and obedience to God. There are many ways to teach gratitude to kids.

Why is it important for children to learn gratitude?

It is important for children to learn gratitude because it has many benefits for their physical and mental health, relationships, and overall well-being.

Here are some of the benefits of gratitude for children:

  • Improved physical health: Gratitude has been shown to reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and boost the immune system.

  • Better mental health: Gratitude can help children feel happier, more optimistic, and more resilient in the face of challenges.

  • Stronger relationships: Gratitude helps children appreciate and value the people in their lives. It also encourages them to be kind and helpful to others.

  • Greater success in life: Gratitude has been linked to greater academic achievement, career success, and overall life satisfaction.

Ideas to Teach Children to Express Gratitude

Gratitude is an essential value children need to learn at a young age, but how exactly do you teach it? Teaching gratitude does not have to be hard at all! Here are 16 super fun activities that will teach your child to be thankful for everything in their life! 

Read Books 

There are many wonderful books can help your child learn to express appreciation. Reading offers numerous benefits, and your child will cherish the opportunity to cozy up and enjoy these books with you.

Here are some of my top recommendations: 

With Jesus I am ThankfulWith Jesus I am ThankfulWith Jesus I am ThankfulThankfulThankfulThankfulGive Thanks to the LordGive Thanks to the LordGive Thanks to the LordCan Grunt the Grizzly Learn to Be Grateful?Can Grunt the Grizzly Learn to Be Grateful?Can Grunt the Grizzly Learn to Be Grateful?Gratitude is My SuperpowerGratitude is My SuperpowerGratitude is My SuperpowerGod Gave Us Thankful HeartsGod Gave Us Thankful HeartsGod Gave Us Thankful Hearts


Make a Thankful Tree or Chain

Creating gratitude chains or trees serves as a delightful and straightforward way to teach children how to express what they are thankful for.

You can craft a chain for each day in November, with each link representing something they're grateful for, adorning their room. Alternatively, you can construct a gratitude tree, adding a leaf every day with something they appreciate. The possibilities are endless!

Dinner Table Gratitude Tradition 

Establish a tradition of gathering around the dinner table each evening to express appreciation for something positive from the day, no matter how big or small.

This practice not only helps children discover things to be grateful for but also instills a sense of optimism by demonstrating that there's always something good in their day. Furthermore, this gratitude tradition helps to create secure attachments with parents during dinner. This activity fosters healthy communication and organic connections in the family system.  If you need help with ideas, check out these family gratitude conversations cards. 

teach gratitude ideas for parents pin Save for Later!Competition

There are so many fun ways to have gratitude competitions. You can see who can write down the most things they are grateful for in one minute. Make it as short or as long as your child needs. 

You can also see how many you can name throughout your day. Make these express gratitude competitions fun and light, nothing too serious. find a local Christian counselor or life coach

Write Thank You Notes

Foster creativity and raise grateful children by encouraging your child to create handwritten thank you notes from a young age. Let them paint and design the cards, nurturing their artistic side.

Through this practice of writing thank you notes, children learn the values of gratitude and good manners, understanding the importance of expressing their appreciation to others. You can purchase TherapyForChristians blank thank you cards here: Blank Thank You Cards.

Rainbow Kind of Days 

Here's one that can hopefully leave a lasting impression on your child. Kids should understand that tough days are part of life, but they don't have to define the entire day.

Introduce the concept of a "rainbow kind of day." Use this phrase when you encounter a challenging day. Discuss the difficulties you faced and then share your own "rainbow."

Much like storms, things may seem bleak during the tough times. However, there's always a beautiful rainbow waiting at the end. This approach will encourage your child to focus on the positives and feel comfortable expressing gratitude for the support you provide during their challenging moments.

Bedtime Routine 

To instill gratitude as a habit in your child, incorporate it into their bedtime routine. Gratitude during their prayer time is essential and it can be a cathartic experience. Ultimately praying at night encourages them to reflect on what they're thankful for that day and share it with God.

Gratitude Jar 

Locate an empty jar and let your child unleash their creativity by decorating it as they wish. Then, have them write notes expressing gratitude for something each day and place these notes in the jar. When the jar is full, take a moment to empty it and read through all the heartfelt expressions of thankfulness.

Gratitude Journal 

A gratitude journal is a great way to teach your child about being thankful. Get them a journal, or have them make their own. Then try to make it a habit to write in their journals every single day. 

This will create a habit and help your child learn the importance of keeping a journal. You can also use a family gratitude journal were everyone write in the same journal.

A Gratitude Journal for Kids and Their ParentsA Gratitude Journal for Kids and Their ParentsA Gratitude Journal for Kids and Their ParentsChristian Gratitude Journal for KidsChristian Gratitude Journal for KidsChristian Gratitude Journal for KidsThe 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for KidsThe 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for KidsThe 3 Minute Gratitude Journal for Kids


Thankful for Senses

Sensory play is a fun and educational way to teach kids about the world around them. It can also help kids learn to appreciate the things they love and are grateful for.

One way to do this is to create a sensory bin filled with things your child loves. This could include different textures, colors, scents, and sounds. Have your child explore the bin and share what they are grateful for.

Another way to teach kids gratitude through sensory play is to ask them what they love for each of their senses. For example:

  • What do you love to taste?

  • What do you love to touch?

  • What do you love to smell?

  • What sound do you love to hear?

  • What do you love to see?

Once you know what your child loves for each of their senses, gather those items together. This is a great way to learn more about your child's favorite things and to help them appreciate those things even more.

Here are some examples of sensory play activities that can help kids learn about gratitude:

  • Sensory bin: Fill a bin with different materials, such as rice, beans, sand, water, or shaving cream. Add small objects, such as toys, rocks, or shells, to the bin. Let your child explore the bin with their hands and feet.

  • Playdough: Make playdough at home or buy it from the store. Add different scents to the playdough, such as vanilla extract, lemon zest, or peppermint oil. Let your child roll, cut, and shape the playdough.

  • Water play: Fill a tub or basin with water. Add different objects to the water, such as cups, spoons, sponges, and bath toys. Let your child splash, pour, and play in the water.

  • Arts and crafts: Provide your child with different art supplies, such as crayons, markers, paint, and glue. Let them create their own artwork.

  • Music: Play different types of music for your child and let them dance and move to the music.

No matter what sensory play activity you choose, the most important thing is to let your child explore and have fun. As they play, talk to them about what they are grateful for. This will help them to develop a deeper appreciation for the things they love in their lives.

Thankful Bingo

Thankful Bingo is not a daily activity but a week or month-long experience. Provide your child with a bingo card filled with prompts that inspire gratitude, which you can create or find online. Some example prompts include:

  1. Express why you're grateful for someone.

  2. Offer a compliment to someone today.

  3. Say "please" and "thank you" ten times throughout the day.

  4. Write in your gratitude journal.

Once your child achieves a bingo, reward them with a prize. To highlight the joy of appreciating all we have, make the blackout prize exceptionally special.

Thankful Pumpkin

Instead of traditional carving, transform your pumpkin into a "Thankful Pumpkin." Fill it with inscriptions of everything your entire family is grateful for, creating a symbol of collective appreciation.

Scavenger Hunt 

For a creative twist, consider a Grateful Scavenger Hunt. You can tailor it to your child's difficulty preference, providing clues related to things you're thankful for, and have them search until they find the prize. Alternatively, let them design their scavenger hunt with prompts like "Find something you're grateful to wear."  If you need some ideas for your scavenger hunt, check out this free download.

Grateful Photo Challenge 

For young photographers, the Grateful Photo Challenge is a fantastic idea. Encourage them to use your phone or a kid's camera to capture 20 things they're grateful for, either from a list you provide or by seeking out their own sources of gratitude.

Drawing or Painting 

Drawing or painting offers a simple yet valuable opportunity for self-expression. Allow your child to create whatever comes to mind, embracing the benefits of process art over replicating designs from platforms like Pinterest. Celebrate their artwork by displaying it and expressing your gratitude for their creativity.

Gratitude Walk 

Energetic children can channel their enthusiasm by embarking on a gratitude walk, a wonderful means of instilling gratitude. Whether it's a leisurely nature walk or a stroll in the park, take the time to notice and discuss the things you see, hear, smell, and touch that inspire feelings of thankfulness during your journey.

Faith box Faithbox - Embrace Your Faith Today!

Final Thoughts on How to Teach Children Gratitude

These gratitude activities will help your child learn this important skill in a fun way! Learning through play is more beneficial and lots more fun for kids of all ages! What other ways to you like to teach your child about gratitude?

  • Be patient. It takes time for children to learn new skills. Don't get discouraged if they don't seem to be getting it right away.

  • Be consistent. The more you talk about gratitude and model gratitude in your own life, the more likely your children are to learn it.

  • Make it fun! Gratitude should be enjoyable for both you and your children. Find activities and games that make learning about gratitude fun and engaging.

Teaching gratitude to children is a gift that will last a lifetime. By helping them to appreciate the good things in their lives, you are setting them up for success and happiness.

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About the Author: 

Christian Child Therapist in Texas Alecia Peters

Alecia Peters is Christian,  advocate and Therapist who fervently believes in holistic health and healing.  Alecia's faith in Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of her strength and it has been her guide in life.  She is currently treating children under the age of 10 in Texas.  She is also the founder of Healing Heart Center,  a non-profit organization whose purpose is to end domestic violence & sexual assault in Ellis County and surrounding areas.  You can find out more about her by visiting: https://www.facebook.com/Healing-Hearts-Center-of-Ellis-County-221931447871976/

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