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11 simple ways to raise grateful kids

4. Let them earn something.

11 simple ways to raise grateful kids

With Thanksgiving approaching, gratitude is on all of our minds. You may feel grateful for visiting family, for a cozy fire to sit by, or for your mom's famous stuffing hot out of the oven. And, of course, we all feel extra thankful for our little ones this time of year.

While all it takes is a cheesy commercial to make me tear up with gratitude for my family this time of year, it can be harder to teach gratitude to children.

Try these 11 tips to help your child feel more thankful during the holidays, and all year long:

1. Share your appreciation

One of the best ways we can encourage gratitude in our children is to model a grateful disposition ourselves. Try to talk regularly about what you're grateful for and why.

It can help to use certain aspects of daily life as a prompt. Try asking everyone to share something they're grateful for while driving to school in the morning or while eating dinner as a family. Linking a gratitude practice to a daily activity will help ensure the habit doesn't slip away after Thanksgiving.

2. Volunteer

Even very young children can help the community in one way or another. Helping others takes away the emphasis on material things and reminds us to be grateful for all that we have.

Little ones can make paintings for children's hospitals, choose holiday gifts for children in need, volunteer in nursing homes, or help bake muffins to bring to a neighbor. Try to make volunteering, even in a very small way, a regular tradition to foster gratitude all year long.

3. Involve them in household work

Part of feeling gratitude is being aware of the effort someone else went through to give us something. Involve your child in family tasks so that they can see this effort.

For example, if you feel like your child is ungrateful for the meals you cook them, involve them in the process. Let them see the time it takes to cook for the family so they understand that the food doesn't just magically appear on their plate. They still may not like everything they're served, but they will begin to appreciate the effort.

4. Let them earn something

It can be hard for children to understand why they can't have everything they want in the toy store. Money is a relatively abstract concept and if they've never paid for something, they may not understand why you're saying "no."

Next time your child really wants a new toy, help them brainstorm a way to earn the money and buy it themself. This could be through saving up their allowance, doing extra chores at home or for Grandma, or having a lemonade stand or a garage sale to sell their old toys. They will see the time and effort it takes to get that new toy, and they will appreciate it more than if you'd simply bought it for them.

5. Set expectations

If a child frequently gets a treat or a new toy when you're running errands, they will come to expect it. Once they expect it, they will no longer feel grateful for it, they will only feel resentful when you do say no.

Before you go into a store, tell your child the plan. You might say, "We're not buying any new toys today, we're just looking. If you see something you really like, I'll write it down so I remember it next time you have a birthday." Stick to the plan you set and, with time, the expectation for constant new toys will diminish.

6. Play 'Pollyanna'

It's easy to be grateful when everything is going well, but having gratitude during tough times can be, well, tough. Help children practice gratitude even when things are not going their way—help them find the silver lining.

This doesn't mean they should mask their feelings—it's okay to feel hurt and upset and disappointed. But it's not useful to wallow in these feelings for too long.

For example, if your daughter comes home from school upset that her best friend wouldn't play with her, acknowledge that something hurtful happened, and then help her find something to be grateful about. You might say, "That must have hurt your feelings. I'm so grateful you have other friends like Billy and Sally that you love to play with too."

7. Give experiences

Having too much stuff can hinder children's development of gratitude. If they have hundreds of toys, they may barely notice receiving 15 new ones over the holidays.

Try replacing some material gifts with experiences like a zoo membership or a special one on one date with mom to the park. Experiences help build connection and take the emphasis off of wanting things.

8. Make a gratitude list

Along with their list for Santa, ask your child to make a list of all of the things from the last year that they're grateful for. You can help them get started, and help write down their answers if they're too young to write.

9. Be aware of ads

Being exposed to constant advertisements breeds feelings of desire for new things, rather than gratitude for what we already have. Be conscious of the marketing campaigns your child may be exposed to through screen time or catalogs laying around the house.

10. Create a gratitude jar

Start a gratitude jar, where everyone in the family writes down things they're grateful for and puts them in the jar.

Periodically announce to your child that you're going to add something to the jar. You could say something like, "I'm so grateful that Grandma brought us flowers from her garden. I feel happy every time I see them. I'm going to add that to the jar." Your child will start to look for things to add too.

You can make reading the slips of paper together a weekly ritual, perhaps after dinner on Sunday.

11. Say “thank you" like you mean it

Teaching children to say "thank you" is often unrelated to gratitude. It is more of a social custom we are trying to instill. Saying thanks can be heartfelt and meaningful though.

Try adding to your "thank you" to show your sincerity and help a child see what it means to really be thankful. You might say to your spouse, "Thank you for cooking dinner tonight. I was so tired and it made me feel so good when you took care of us like that." Or, say to your child, "Thank you for helping your little sister button her coat. My hands were full with the groceries and I appreciate you being a helper."

The more gratitude you show, the more your child will adopt the attitude themself. Try to be patient though. Young children are so focused on themselves that it can take time for them learn gratitude.

Just know that you're giving them a gift when you make it part of your family life, during the holiday season and throughout the whole year.

Why right now is the best time for a drivable getaway

Flexible schedules mean more vacation options. 🙌

Looking back now, last winter feels like a lifetime ago. At the time, my husband and I were eagerly planning our summer vacation just as we've done in years past. You know how the next part goes: COVID-19 came into the picture and changed our plans not only for vacationing, but for so much else in life.

In the time since then, we've gained a truly valuable new perspective on what matters—and realized we don't have to look so far to make beautiful memories with our kids. By exploring getaways within driving distance of our home, we've developed a new appreciation for the ability to "pack up the car and go."

Of course, that isn't to say that travel is the carefree adventure it once was. With COVID-19 still a very big part of the equation, we've become much more diligent about planning trips that allow for social distancing and exceed cleanliness standards. That's why we've exclusively turned to Vrbo, which helps us find nearby accommodations that meet our new criteria. Better yet?

Thanks to the money we've saved by skipping air travel and our remote-friendly work schedules, we're able to continue with the trips throughout the fall.

Here are a few more reasons we believe it's a great time for drivable getaways.

Flexible schedules allow us to mix work + play.

After months of lockdown, my family was definitely itching for a change of scenery as the summer began. By looking at drivable destinations with a fresh set of eyes—and some helpful accommodation-finding filters on Vrbo—we were able to find private houses that meet our needs. (Like comfortably fitting our family of five without anyone having to sleep on a pull-out couch!)

With space to spread out and feel like a home away from home, we quickly realized that we didn't need to limit our getaways to the weekends—instead we could take a "Flexcation," a trip that allows us to mix work and play. Thanks to the ability to work remotely and our kids' distance-learning schedule for the fall, we're planning a mid-week trip next month that will allow us to explore a new destination after clocking out for the day.

We’re embracing off-season deals.

With Labor Day no longer marking the end of our vacationing season, we're able to take advantage of nearby getaways that mark down their rates during the off season. For us in the Mountain West, that means visiting ski-town destinations when the leaves are falling rather than the snow. By saving money on that front, we're able to splurge a bit with our accommodations—so you can bet I search for houses that include a private hot tub for soaking in while enjoying the mountain views!

Vacationing is a way to give back.

If we've learned one thing this year, it's that life can change pretty quickly. That's given us a new appreciation for generous cancellation policies and transparent cleaning guidelines when booking trips. By seeing both of these things front and center in Vrbo listings along with reviews from fellow travelers, I feel confident when I hit the "book now" button.

Beyond that, I know that booking a trip through Vrbo isn't only a gift to my family. On the other side of the transaction, there are vacation home owners and property managers who appreciate the income during these uncertain times. What's more, taking getaways allows us to support our local economy—even if it's just by ordering new takeout food to enjoy from our home away from home.

While "looking ahead" doesn't feel as easy as it once did, I am confident that there will be a lot of drivable getaways in our future.

This article was sponsored by Vrbo. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

This post is brought to you by Staples. While this was a sponsored opportunity, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

One of the biggest changes in my household once my daughter started homeschooling was that, suddenly, everything and everyone in our home had to start pulling double duty. While I was used to wearing a lot of hats (mom, wife and WFH employee, to name a few), suddenly our dining room was also pulling shifts as a classroom. My laptop was also a virtual teacher. Our living room hutch was also a school supply closet.

If I didn't want my home to be overrun with an abundance of clutter, I had to find products that could multitask. Here are 10 products that are saving this WFH + homeschooling mama right now.

Stylish storage cabinet

Whether I need a place to keep the printer or just want to keep crayons and colored pencils organized, this pretty cabinet provides a mixture of exposed and hidden storage without clashing with my living room decor.

White board calendar + bulletin board

With so much on our plates these days, I need a visual reminder of our daily schedule or I'll forget everything. This dry erase version makes it easy to keep track of Zoom meetings and virtual classes—and I also love using the corkboard to display my daughter's latest work from art class.

Natural Recycled 3-Ring Binder

From tracking our curriculum progress to organizing my family's paperwork, I can never have enough binders. Even better, this neutral version is pretty enough that I can display them on the bookshelf.

Bamboo storage drawers

The instant you start homeschooling, it can feel like you're suddenly drowning in papers, craft supplies and more. Fortunately, these simple bamboo drawers can be tucked into the cabinet or even displayed on top (seriously, they're that cute!) to keep what we need organized and close at hand.

Laminated world map

I love this dry-erase map for our geography lessons, but the real secret? It also makes a cute piece of wall decor for my work space.

Rolling 7-drawer cabinet

When you're doing it all from home, you sometimes have to roll with the punches—I strongly recommend getting an organizational system that rolls with you. On days when both my husband and I are working from home and I need to move my daughter's classes to another room, this 7-drawer cabinet makes it easy to bring the classroom with us.

Letterboard

From our first day of school photo to displaying favorite quotes to keep myself motivated, this 12"x18" letterboard is my favorite thing to display in our home.

Expandable tablet stand

Word to the wise: Get a pretty tablet stand you won't mind seeing out every day. (Because between virtual playdates, my daughter's screen time and my own personal use, this thing never gets put away.)

Neutral pocket chart

Between organizing my daughter's chore chart, displaying our weekly sight words and providing a fits-anywhere place to keep supplies on hand, this handy little pocket chart is a must-have for homeschooling families.

Totable fabric bins

My ultimate hack for getting my family to clean up after themselves? These fabric bins. I can use them to organize my desk, store my oldest's books and even keep a bin of toys on hand for the baby to play with while we do school. And when playtime is over, it's easy for everyone to simply put everything back in the bin and pop it in the cabinet.

Looking for study solutions for older children? Hop over to Grown & Flown for their top picks for Back to School.

Work + Money

Mama, all I see is you

A love letter from your baby.

Mama,

I can't see past you right now, I'm so small and everything's a little blurry.

All I see is you.

When you feel alone, like the walls are closing in, remember I'm here too. I know your world has changed and the days feel a little lonely. But they aren't lonely for me.

You are my everything.

When you feel like you don't know what you're doing, you're making it look easy to me. Even though we're still getting to know each other, you know me better than anyone.

I trust you.

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