The number one way my parents taught us gratitude was by volunteering for our community. We volunteered as a family doing everything from Sub for Santa to cleaning up homes after a flood.
If your children are old enough to join (or start!) a Community Service Club then sign them up! In different schools I participated in various activities such as organizing an Easter egg hunt for orphanages and throwing a Halloween bash for the children at a battered women’s shelter.
One year we were having a hard time deciding with whom to spend Thanksgiving so instead of arguing about it, I signed us up to help with Thanksgiving dinner at a whole homeless shelter. (It was more work than I had planned, and I was not the best cook back then so I should probably host a re-do when my kids are older!)
My children are too young to help with most of these activities but not too young for some of these ideas:
- Have your children go through their toys and donate them to a shelter.
- Host a huge birthday party and suggest they give their presents to charity.
- Teach them DAILY gratitude whether you do it through prayer, around the dinner table or right before bed. Get your children in the habit of sshowing gratitude for the people and things around them on a daily basis.
- Thank your children! It will teach them to be polite, make them feel appreciated and they will follow your example and thank others.
- Help them write thank-you notes. I was a little scared of my Grandmother…Whenever the phone rang and it was Grandma calling, my first thought was, “Crap, did I forget to send a thank-you note to Grandma for something?” It was one of her biggest pet peeves. Always send a handwritten thank-you note!Amanda Blake Soule, author of The Creative Family, gave a great tip for thank-you cards for those with young children: Sit down one day with blank card stock, have them decorate the fronts and use that as your stationary for thank-you cards. When your child is old enough, have him join in helping you decide what to write inside the card.
- Focus on one alphabet letter a day and have your child color a picture of something she is thankful for that begins with that letter. Use a wire or fishing line and display each one!
What a great post! I am trying to raise my children to love service, so we serve. We do thank the Lord a LOT, but some your other ideas I hadn’t considered. I’m going to have to think about them. Thank you!
Daniel Brenton says
This post was highlighted in the May 12 edition of “Gratitude Watch.”
Thank YOU for promoting the value of gratitude.