Teaching Gratitude to Children

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, gratitude is a hot topic for American parents and educators.

According to polls, 4 out of 5 parents think their children aren’t thankful enough. But gratitude isn’t something that comes naturally — it has to be instilled.

In this post, we’re outlining a few tips for teaching children about being grateful and respectful with their teachers, classmates, friends and families. The key to your students practicing gratitude lies in understanding — let’s dive in.

Saying “Thank You” With a Purpose

We teach children to say the right words at the right time, but do we instill in them why they should do it? Teaching your students to remember the purpose of saying thank you helps them understand gratitude at its core level.

Some children will have had help with this at home, but others might need it spelled out for them. Provide children with concrete examples of situations that require generosity, and gratitude in return. 

Demonstrating Openness

Habits of gratitude start with you as the educator. Make sure that you’re always open with each and every child whenever possible. 

It starts with a simple thank you when a child does something nice, but it’s really more about showing that positive emotions are something to embrace. Children can be fearful of showing their emotions, but when it comes to gratitude, they should be encouraged to appreciate each other.

Daily Gratitude Rituals

If you’re having trouble getting through to some children, you can make gratitude more of a classroom exercise. Gratitude rituals are common around Thanksgiving when we tell our family what we’re grateful for. You can turn this sentiment into an exercise for the classroom.

A daily gratitude ritual can help them understand the concept. Try having the children tell you what they were grateful for at the end of the school day. You can get more specific and have children write letters to different classmates every week telling them why they’re grateful for them as a classmate.

Little things like this will start to establish the general idea of gratitude more firmly in your classroom. Your students will begin recognizing generosity in others and look forward to thanking them for their kindnesses. Creating a gratitude project for your class to see where they are at the beginning of the year and where they end up can be quite rewarding. 

Experience the Benefits of Teaching Gratitude

There’s no denying that teaching gratitude can be trying, but it’s all the more satisfying as a result. The benefits of teaching gratitude can’t be understated. You’ll end up with a more respectful class, not just from a student-to-teacher perspective, but from a classmate perspective as well.