Are you looking for practical ways your teen can practice gratitude and kindness? I remember when my kids were little, and it was easy to get them to participate in volunteer work. They were excited to help others whether it was collecting non-perishables or handing them out.
But getting teens to practice gratitude can be a whole other story!
It’s not because they don’t want to help! It’s more that they might think it’s “not cool” or they just don’t want to leave their comfort zone.
Here’s what I think – even if teens grumble, they do want to show gratitude and kindness. Some just need more of a push or a clear, practical way to do it. If we provide that, then I think we will see an engaged teen practicing gratitude and kindness.
Practical Ways your Teen can Practice Gratitude
To help you and your teen out, here are three practical ways to practice gratitude:
1. Write thank you notes. They don’t have to be for a gift received; they can be for anyone in your teen’s life that your child wants to encourage. This is perfect for anytime during the year, but especially meaningful during the holiday season.
2. Plan to give out three honest compliments each day. You can challenge each other to do this!
3. Keep a gratitude journal. Have your teen write down 3 specific things they’re grateful for each day for a week. If you have a whiteboard or calendar in the kitchen, this is something the whole family could do!
Things Teens can Make to Show Kindness:
· Make Masks
· Make fleece blankets for shelters or the elderly
· Bags for the homeless (or to take to shelters). Things to put in bags include small packages of tissues, toothpaste and toothbrush, small shampoos, soap, razors, deodorant, socks, hairbrush/combs, ponytail holders, paper and pen, small blankets, washcloths, and hand towels.
· Handmade goodies to share with neighbors at the holidays
Maybe your teen doesn’t want to bake or make things! They could offer to mow someone’s lawn or weed their flower bed. They could organize a local food drive or join in with one already in place. They could also offer to wrap presents for a grandparent or elderly neighbor. That is often a tough task for older people who might have arthritis.
Practicing Gratitude and Kindness has lots of Benefits
We have a local food bank where I live, and I know homeschoolers often go volunteer there. Besides earning service hours (often needed when they graduate), they always mention how encouraging it is to them!
Showing gratitude or kindness benefits us all in many ways. It’s a cycle that becomes a habit. And that’s a good thing!
As your teen starts giving, make sure to praise wisely. This is something I’ve learned – efffective praise focuses on our kids’ hard work.
Other practical ideas
Other suggestions include picking up litter, babysitting for a parents’ night out, going Christmas caroling, or offering to tutor younger siblings.
Encourage your teen to write down their ideas – if it’s something they come up with they are much more likely to do it! (Resist the urge to change their ideas – just a little something I’ve learned along the way!)
You can brainstorm together if they seem stuck. Remember, these are actually life skills that you are working on with your teen – as essential as learning how to cook or juggle money.
Model Practicing Gratitude and Kindness
We always hear it said that our children see what we do and then do what we do – we model behavior for them. Let’s make sure we’re also showing and practicing gratitude and kindness!
As you get involved this holiday season of thanks, invite them along. Or encourage them to get involved in their own way. And watch them go to work spreading kindness and thanks!
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About the Author
Hi, I’m Jen! I “retired” after 13 years of homeschooling when my baby graduated in 2020. I’ve been married almost 36 years, have 5 amazing kids and 2 adorable grandkids, and I homeschooled the three youngest children. I love to help the homeschooling community and I enjoy writing, creating curriculum. I also teach Oral Communication as an adjunct instructor. When I’m not working, you’ll find me spending time with my family or curled up on the couch reading and drinking a mug of dark roast coffee. You can find me at Jen Dodrill History at Home and connect with me on Instagram , Facebook, and my favorite place – Pinterest !