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Practicing, Modeling, & Teaching Gratitude through Simple Daily Activities with Your Kids

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

This November, I want to institute some daily gratitude with my son. Not only do I need a good reminder of expressing thankfulness and appreciating things, it will allow me to model this behavior as part of teaching it to my boy. Sometimes teaching a child about something as abstract as feeling and expressing gratitude can seem a bit overwhelming. Luckily, I've compiled a few ideas here to jump start your Thankful Season!

Discuss it:

This might seem like a no brainer, but just talking about being grateful and thankful is the first way to introduce the idea to children. Share some things you are thankful for - this could be overall, or even something small that happens daily. Work it into your regular routine, like going around the dinner table to share something that made you happy that day.

Thankful Jars

These are an easy DIY - you can use a mason jar, an old plastic cheese puff tub, literally any kind of container works! There are also a couple of different ways to use these. First, you can incorporate it into a regular daily routine, such as bedtime, to write down something that you and/or your child were grateful for that day and put it in the jar. Collect the scraps until the jar is full, then empty it and use them to create a Thankful Collage. Second, you can set aside an hour to write down a bunch of compliments and thank you's to each other. When it's been a bad day, you can dip into the jar for a pick-me-up. Or you can fill it with thank you's and compliments for a given time frame, say for a full 30 days, and incorporate this into a regular daily routine to read aloud something someone in your house is appreciative of.


Journaling

If your child is a bit older, then maybe the jars could seem silly. Instead, journaling is a good alternative. It's not read aloud, it's a more introspective activity that likely will feel more comfortable for an older child or teen, and it still offers them the opportunity to reflect on things they might overlook in a given day that they are appreciative of. They could choose a new journal or notebook, decorate the cover as they wish, and spent 10-15 minutes each day writing only positive things in this specific notebook. It's a wonderful mindfulness activity and a great tool for promoting positive mental health in children.


Crafting

There are a ton of great options for crafts revolving around thankfulness, especially for Thanksgiving month! You could make a fall tree from construction paper which each leaf having something thankful written on it, or a turkey and the tailfeathers, or a cornucopia and the food items inside. The possibilities are endless with this option and it is great for incorporating practice of motor skills, concentration, creativity, self-expression, and being grateful. If you love to craft with your kiddo, I definitely recommend checking out this wonderfully compiled list of different sources and craft activities over at Craft Project Ideas.


Reading

Obviously, as a bookish mom, I'm going to have books on this list. I've said it before and you'll hear it a million more times from me - reading books about a subject is the easiest way to introduce that subject to a child!! Holiday themed or not, there are so many good options for introducing the idea of gratefulness to a child. From teaching them to be grateful for what they have, as well as how to express their thankfulness to others, reading books about this subject with your children. These are a couple of my favorites:


Adorable matching set!

Click the images to get more info about these!





Random Acts

I'm sure most of us have experienced a small show of the Pay-It-Forward attitude - the person in front of you pays for your coffee in the drive thru or you find a $5 in your Redbox movie for a snack. Similarly, these gratitude activities are simple (and mostly free) ways to do nice things for other people, your community, and the environment. This is a fun and easy way to model and explain the behavior of doing good just because we are able to. Taking it a step further, you could give physical thank you cards to people in your life. It could range from your closest family member to a coworker to your child's teacher, to even the cashier at your favorite store. This is a great one for your child to help you choose different people to give thank you cards to, and I've even started your list with 20 suggestions and space for you to write in the rest that your family can think of! Linking this back to crafting, homemade cards are always fun and such a treat! But if you want to do a 30 Days of Thank You's and give a card to one person each day, creating all of those might be a bit time consuming. Instead, you could use the beautiful hand-crafted cards in the Thanks & Blanks card box set. 30 cards for $30 (pre-tax and shipping), so not only are they gorgeous, they're also cheaper than store bought 😉


I hope these ideas spark some fun family activities for you and your kiddo(s), and I'd love to see and hear about them!


*If you know a family or organization in need of fundraising, the Thanks & Blanks card box is one of 5 that are available to use as a fundraiser called Cards for a Cause that I offer through Little Lantern Books. A portion of proceeds from each box sold (with a minimum of 15 boxes) goes directly to the family or organization of choice in the form of a money order. Learn more and/or contact me here to collaborate!


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