“It’s not happy people who are thankful, it is thankful people that are happy”

Hello MAMers !

With Thanksgiving still fresh on our minds, and perhaps our waistbands, we felt that there was no better time to teach our kids about the importance of giving and gratitude. Nowadays, society’s emphasis on instant gratification and its aversion to all things “challenging” makes it all too easy to unintentionally raise ungrateful children—children who feel more entitled than thankful, children who confuse their privileges with their rights. And for us parents, there is a constant internal struggle to want to give our kids the best at every turn but to also make them realize the difference between needs and wants.

Below you will find some simple and effective ways to teach kids about gratitude—during the holiday season and beyond!

1. Start a “Thankful Jar”

Grab a large jar or container and decorate it with your kids. Then explain to them that this is the family’s Thankful Jar for the month. Sit it somewhere accessible along with pieces of paper, pencils, and crayons for the younger kids. Then encourage everyone to fill the jar with things they’re thankful for—be it with words, drawings, or both. 

Designate a time, maybe once a week or so, to sit down as a family and look through the slips of paper in the jar. Point out ideas your kids had that are especially thoughtful or creative.

2. “Sensory deprivation” 

Have your child choose one of their senses to be « deprived » of (their sight, their speech or their hearing) for a day. You can adjust the length of the activity according to your child’s age, schedule etc. In the end, the important part is to get them to have a newfound appreciation for all five of their senses! 

3. Serve Those in Need

There is perhaps no better way for all of us to cultivate gratitude than to serve others. Teach your children the value of service to those less fortunate by regularly finding opportunities to serve together as a family. As your children get older, have them offer ideas for ways or people to serve—such as collecting canned goods for a food bank, visiting orphans, making a meal for a family in need, or raising money for a nonprofit. 

4. Play the “What Would You Feel Without It” Game

This game can be done any time during the day. Simply ask your kids what they would feel like without various items.  They will be surprised how different life would be without some of the things they consider “normal” to have. Afterwards start up a discussion about how other people live without such items, and help them to remember to appreciate what is sometimes taken for granted in their lives.

5.  Send notes of gratitude

Teach your kids the importance of gratitude by having them write a note or draw a picture for a special person each month.  

Of course, as with any lesson we teach our children, the key to teaching gratitude is to lead by example. A continued commitment to expressing gratitude and having a "thankful" mindset will certainly stick with them.