It's too easy for children and adults alike (myself included) to focus on the things they want or the things that are negative in the world. Gratitude brings an element of positivity to the day that can mold how the day progresses. With Thanksgiving coming up, it is an excellent time to reinforce the idea of gratitude in our children (and in ourselves)
Express your own gratitude. The best thing any parent can do for their child is to lead by example. When you are grateful for the little things, it makes them take notice as well. You might try to be especially grateful for the things your children do and not be afraid to let them know it.
Start a gratitude journal. Get each child a small journal. You should also have one. Make it a point to post in the journal on a daily basis. If your children are too small to write, encourage them to draw pictures of their favorite part of the day or something they really appreciated that day.
Start the day with gratitude. Gratitude is about more than just appreciating the things you have or the things people do for you. There is gratitude to be found in the ability to create your own path for the day. Each morning, encourage your children to express what they are most excited about for that day. You can express your own excitement as well.
Limit material items. Children who are not spoiled with material items tend to be grateful for what they do have. They take better care of their things. When they get something new, they actually appreciate it and make use of it.
Let your life be good enough. People spend a lot of time thinking that their life “will be better when _______” and they tend to miss out on the enjoyment they might experience today. If the plan is always that something else needs to happen before things are good enough, things will never be good enough… you will find yourself waiting all the time. You pass those habits on to your children, so be sure to pass on the habits you really want them to have.
Eliminate negative talk from the home. Words like “can't” and “hate” carry a lot of weight and are completely unproductive, yet often used as casually. Sometimes a simple change in vocabulary forces people to use other words and by default, other thoughts.
Have a ritual of gratitude. Every night when our family sits down to dinner, we play a game called “Best Part of the Day, Worst Part of the Day” and each person has to tell theirs. We have been playing this “game” for several years now and even their friends enjoy playing it when they are at our house for dinner. It is a great way to make sure that they stop and reflect on their day and be grateful for the best parts of it!
Gratitude is a powerful force. By using these ways to teach children about gratitude, you can open their eyes so that they can enjoy life today rather than living for tomorrow.