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How to Teach Kids to Be Grateful

November 25, 2014

Want to spend this Thanksgiving teaching your children to be more grateful? We've got some great tips for you, shared by the TODAY Show.

  • Lower Primary Group Lesson

How you teach children about gratitude can vary depending on their age, but the basic rules are the same. Being a good role model is one of the best ways, especially if you can model the behaviors you'd like to see in your son or daughter.

For help doing this, and for other tips to encourage gratitude in children, we're sharing some of our favorite ideas shared on Want the full list? Read their article here.

The Preschool Years

1. Create a thank-you. When your young kids receive gifts, they should be expected to create and send a thank-you picture or short note. Be sure that your family sends thank-you notes together to model the behavior.

2. Pick your top 3. At dinner or bedtime, take turns sharing the three best things about your day.

3. Instead of making lists to Santa, ask your child to pretend THEY are Santa, and make a list of gifts they'd like to give to their friends and family.

The Elementary Years

1. Make a gratitude jar. Fill it with short handwritten notes of gratitude from daily events. When your child is having a bad day, pull out a few notes to remind them of all they have.

2. Around the holidays, model thankful behavior by working together with your children to bake cookies for the mailman, local firefighters and other community members.

The Middle School Years

1. Take action. Encourage your children to find a cause they are passionate about, and to help others less fortunate than they are. If they're grateful for the abundance of food your family has, work with them to find a soup kitchen to volunteer in.

2. Encourage children to help out without being asked. Make it a goal to do so once a day — and for any member of the family. Parents can do the same for their children or their spouses, too, and show the children how it's done!

The High School Years

1. Thank a teacher or coach. By this age, children should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own gratitude. Encourage them to think about the adults in their lives who have made an impact, and to let those people know how important they are.

2. Volunteer. If your children tried some volunteering in middle school, encourage them to become a regular volunteer at a local agency or nonprofit. Teens can also work to put together clubs at their school to encourage other youth to do good in their community.

3. Encourage your children to create a new family gratitude ritual, and make it something you can continue when they’re on their own in college or later in life. Maybe you text each other every Friday morning, sharing the part of your week you are most thankful for, or you start a Sunday dinner by sharing your gratitude. Whatever you do, make it a family affair!

Do you have tips of your own for teaching children to be grateful? We'd love to hear them! Share them with us on social media!