3 Secrets in Teaching Kids Gratitude

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First of all, to all my blog subscribers, I apologize for unfinished blog posts being emailed to you earlier today. I’ve been in El Salvador interviewing teachers & students for our new school, as well as working with our scholarship students and hosting Bible study for our teen girls.

All that to say, I’ve written & published blog posts this week from El Salvador and completely forgot unfinished ones were sitting in the queue for this morning.  Soooo… here is today’s real post about teaching kids gratitude. Thanks for your understanding.

Teaching Kids Gratitude – 3 Secrets Just for YOU

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Although we were not intentional in teaching gratitude, our kids became thankful adults.  How did that happen? How did we encourage gratitude in our kid? My guess is Steve and I were raised to be thankful, to not take everything for granted. Today I’m sharing 3 secrets for you to teach kids gratitude on an everyday basis.

Say It

The biggest thing that we did to teach our kids to be thankful is we modeled “thanks” ourselves. We modeled “thank you” for our kids. We said “please” and “thank you” all day long. If I asked my child to make their bed and I saw that they had made their bed, I would thank them.

Thank you, Gentry, for making your bed.
Thank you for bringing the pencil to me.
Thank you for taking out the trash.
Thank you for helping your sister.

Our children heard “thank you” over and over, all day long. Was this intentional? No.

It was purely by accident, and by the grace of God. I think those “accidents” can be the best ways our kids learn. I didn’t think to myself, “We’re going to teach our kids to be thankful, so we’re going to say thank you and please”. Since we were raised to say thank you”, I said that to my own kids. And our kids said it to others.

When our kids were at their friend’s house, they would pick up their plate, carry it back to the kitchen and say, “Thank you, Mrs. Leithart, for lunch” or “Thank you for a snack”.

Modeling is one of the best ways that you can be teaching kids gratitude, so we say it.

teaching kids gratitude with these 3 secrets

Write It

Next, we write it.

I had my kids write ‘thank you’ notes on a regular basis and especially after Christmas and birthdays. Do you think they liked writing thank you notes? No, way.

And yes, I heard many complaints, but I was persistent because I believe in the power of thank you notes.

Fast Forward

My kids are all grown now and each one says, “Mom, we are so glad you had us write ‘thank you’ notes”. Looking back, I realize the practice of writing thank you notes is one of the most important habits my kids developed. Besides God and family, my kids are grateful for the habit of gratitude.

If you want to know how to write a thank you letter, you can read my post here.  You can even get my free How to Write a Thank You Letter printable. Just click here.

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Pray It

When our kids had quiet time in the afternoon, we would pray before they read or played quietly. One thing I prayed was, Thank you God that Dad works so hard for us. Thank you for providing for us, through Dad’s work”. They heard us saying thank you to God everyday.

Ashley, my oldest daughter, encourages thanks with her two daughters. They are both under five years old.  After reading books at bedtime, they ask the girls, What can we tell God thanks for today?” Asking their kids what they are thankful for encourages a personal gratitude habit. In their bedtime prayers, they are sure to thank God for whatever their kids are thankful for.

I am encouraged and thankful to see this habit. They do this every night that I am visiting.

Do you see the multi-generational giving of thanks?

Our parents taught us gratitude. We taught our kids gratitude. My daughter is teaching her kids gratitude.  My other kids don’t have children yet. I look forward to seeing how they teach thanks in their family.

Thanking God is where your gratitude starts. You need to be saying thank you, first to God.  Then you offer thanks to others, through saying it or writing it.

Model gratitude in your family and your entire family will be thankful.

Say it. Write it. Pray it.

What other ways might you model gratitude in your family?

What other ways might you be teaching kids gratitude in your home? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  1. It is so important to teach our kids how to show gratitude, especially in this day and age where so many people seem to take things for granted.

    We do each of these. At bedtime I’ve taught my son to add what he is thankful for in his prayers. I try to make sure each time they do a chore or something helpful around the house I verbally thank them, and that they thank each other. And thank you cards after gift giving occasions — I think they’ve become a lost art. But my kids are working on it.

    1. Christina,
      Thank you for your encouragement. It’s great to know that other moms are teaching gratitude. Keep up the good work.

    1. Modeling is the best way. I accidentally modeled saying “thank you” all the time and am pleased with the results. Unfortunately, I modeled other habits that we had to break. I mean we … both my kids & I had to break some bad habits.

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