How to teach kids gratitude

How to teach kids gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most important skills for kids to learn. 

My husband often jokes that in the ten plus years we’ve been together, I’ve given away the things we own at least twice. One time he came home and our bed was gone. He entered our bedroom, changed clothes and continued to act normally for a few hours. At dinner he asked: Are we sleeping on the floor tonight?

It didn’t surprise him that I gave away something because someone else needed it more. Now that we have kids, we want to teach them to be givers while expecting nothing in return.

For us, giving doesn’t just apply to our things; it also means giving our time. I’ve learned that the best way to teach our children something is to set the example ourselves. Most people think of giving back sometime around the holidays, when they begin to realize how blessed they are to have the life they live. I’d like to argue that giving is something that needs to be done year round; and if you need a few ideas on how to get started or kick it up a notch, the holidays are a great time to get started.

Here are seven ways to teach your children to give more:

1. Set up a donation station.
It is true that most parents begin to make room for more stuff before the holidays. We organize our playrooms and donate items with the expectation that our small spaces will be filled again. What if we set up donation stations a few times per year? Or all year round? Of course, this goes with the explanation that there are other kids who are less fortunate and we are making them happy.

2. Get one, give one.
This goes along with setting up a donation station but on an ongoing basis. How often do you go to Target and your kids beg you for a new game, toy or book? My friend has her kids put one of their existing toys or something equivalent into a Give Bag each time this happens. Her Give Bag gets delivered to her local Children’s hospital when it’s full. This teaches her kids to be more selective about their wants while blessing other kids at the same time.

Read Related: 5 Gifts That Teach Giving

3. Volunteer your time.
Volunteer hours aren’t something that needs to be done just in high school or because of assigned community service. There are a lot of things you can do that can be done with kids of all ages, all year around—from park cleanups to elderly home visits, soup kitchens and even mission trips. There are thousands of organizations near you waiting for you to help and serve others. Serving others by giving your time will not only get your kids involved but will fill your heart with immense joy.

4. Adopt a family.
Participate in a local food drive and commit to either providing a family with a holiday meal, becoming their Secret Santa, or creating a monthly grocery bag for them. Again, find a non-profit organization or a local church and get involved. My kids love our monthly Family Box because not only do we pick a recipe and build an entire dinner around that recipe, but they get to come to the grocery store, purchase the non-perishable foods that go with that recipe, and decorate the box. Getting them involved in blessing others helps us find happiness in the little things.

5. Walk for a cure.
Is there an illness that hits close to home for your family? There are hundreds of Walk for the Cure events nationwide that your family can participate in. Your kids’ participation makes a difference!

6. Make a pledge.
You can pledge a one-time donation or a monthly pledge to a cause that is important to you and your family. While I am not big on writing checks for others to distribute (I’m a get involved kind of gal), there are dozens of organizations that are reputable and make good use of the funds.

7. Give financially.
If your family tithes, explain to your kids why it’s done and why it’s important. Once your children are old enough to earn an allowance or get paid for helping around the house, they too should tithe. It teaches them that giving comes first; then comes the rest.

Children, when given an explanation, can learn to be very generous. Create a giving plan this holiday season and see how you can get the kids involved year round.