Practical Ways To Cultivate An Attitude of Gratitude In Your Home
If you’re interested in raising grateful kids rather than selfish entitled ones, then you’ve come to the right place.
Let’s be honest. We live in a very me-centered world.
Everywhere you look it seems that there are billboards, TV shows, and magazine covers advertising the theme “It’s all about me!”
Bottom line: Kids are born into a world that shouts “ME! ME! ME!” from the rooftops.
It’s our job as parents to reprogram their little minds and remind them that this world does not revolve around them.
If we want them to grow up as kind, appreciative, and contributing members of society, we have to be intentional in how we raise our kids.
As you continue reading, I’m going to elaborate on 6 different tips for raising grateful kids, because no one wants a house full of ME-Monsters!
Let’s learn and grow together!
6 Tips For Raising Grateful Kids
- Hard Work Matters
- Grateful For The Small Things
- Serve Together
- Open Their Eyes
- Practice Gratitude
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Hard Work Matters
One thing that is vital to instill into our kids is the value of hard work.
How many times have you asked one of your kids to take out the trash or put away their laundry, only to be met with the look of terror, annoyance and frustration?
It’s basically like you’ve completely inconvenienced them by asking them to do a 5 minute task. Seriously?
How do you remedy this situation?
Start ‘em young!
Raising grateful kids requires intentionality, looking at each of your kids and finding ways to help them understand the value of hard work.
No one wants their kids to grow up as lazy, idle, couch potatoes. Not on my watch!
There are definitely tasks that are age-appropriate for a 10 year-old that would not befit a 3 year-old. But everyone can pitch in.
It’s so important that your kids grow up in a home where they know that everyone helps out. No one gets a free pass.
Mom is not Cinderella, responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. No way.
What can a 3 year-old do? Lots of things!
A child that age can learn to: bring you their dishes when meal times are over, put their shoes in a designated place every time they come inside, and even make sure their stuffed animals are back in their bed instead of all over the room.
Starting young and developing these healthy habits will pay off in the long run with your little ones.
What can a 10 year-old do?
A 10 year-old can: take out the trash, wash and fold their laundry, sweep the floor, wash the car, vacuum their room, clean a toilet, set the table, bring the trash cans inside, dust their room, and so much more!
It may not always be fun to have to ask them to help, or to see the results of their feeble efforts at first, but it is so worth it in the end. Let them try.
Teach them to value their room, toys, and home. Remember, the goal is raising grateful kids!
In the same breath, you’re also teaching them to value you as their parent.
You are showing your children that time is one of the most valuable assets you have, and by their helpful acts of service, it is freeing up time for you to spend elsewhere, oftentimes with them!
Aside from just helping around the house and being praised for completing a task, the rewards for your kids can come in the form of an allowance, or maybe something else they are working towards.
For example: A 3 year-old can see the fruits of his labor in filling up a sticker chart.
Each time he listens and obeys and helps Mommy, he earns a sticker.
After the chart has been completed, there is a promised reward, such as a toy from the store or a trip to get an ice cream cone.
Rewards can fuel motivation in a child!
A 10 year-old most likely won’t be motivated by an ice cream cone, so the stakes may need to be raised.
For example: Haley has been working very hard to earn $3 a week for doing her various chores.
She has been saving to buy these really nice art pencils. Haley asked her Mom if there were any extra chores she could do to earn a few extra dollars this week.
Mom knows she’s been saving her money for the art pencils and tells her that if she vacuums out the car she can earn an additional $10.
Haley happily agrees, does a fantastic job, and earns the last $10 she needs to get the pencils.
Haley is not only learning the value of hard work, but the importance of helping around at home, and taking responsibility for something she wants.
She took the initiative and asked her mom if there was anything else she could help with, and her mom obliged.
Kids need to work! Show them when they are young and impressionable the value of hard work and the rewards for happy, faithful obedience.
You won’t regret it!
Grateful For The Small Things
Another tip for raising grateful kids is to teach your kids to be grateful for the small things.
What are the small things?
I’m talking about learning to say thank you for their food, when someone offers to help, for a birthday present, etc.
There are many opportunities throughout each day for little ones to practice being thankful.
One thing I do with Addie, my 6 year-old, is wait for her to say thank you after I’ve served her a meal.
This is not something that comes naturally. It has to be taught.
The hope is that it one day becomes a habit.
I’m not the type to take the food away if she doesn’t say thank you, but I will repeat myself and say, “Addie, what do you say for your breakfast?”
Once prompted, she will say, “Thank you Mommy for my breakfast.”
And on occasion, she will say it without being prompted and it makes my heart soar because she’s doing it on her own!
That’s when you know the training is effective and practice truly is making progress.
Why is it important to be grateful for the small things? How does teaching kids to say thank you for their meals cultivate gratitude?
My opinion…you have to start somewhere.
When kids learn to be grateful for the little things like meals, acts of service, and birthday gifts, later on in life they will hopefully be grateful for bigger things.
It’s not about rote memorization and just reciting thank you all the time.
Gratitude is a matter of the heart.
In Scripture it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” (I Thess. 5:16-18)
Another verse says, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Luke 6:45)
What comes out of our mouths is a reflection of what’s in our hearts.
I don’t know about you, but I want my words and Addie’s to reflect gratitude to God for all of His many blessings.
Children need to realize that they were not born to be served and doted on their whole life. That’s doing them a huge disservice.
As parents, it’s our job to cultivate that attitude of gratitude early on.
A great place to start is training your kids to be grateful for the little things.
Another tip for raising grateful kids is to serve together as a family.
This doesn’t have to be something huge and formal.
If you have real little ones, serving as a family might look like helping an elderly lady fill her fridge with food.
Go grocery shopping as a family and deliver the groceries.
You can go a step further and spend some time visiting with her, speaking life and taking an interest in her.
Maybe your kids are older and they can handle a longer day of serving. Sign up to do a service project with your church.
Go on a mission trip as a family. Serve in a soup kitchen and help give meals to those less fortunate.
It’s amazing what kinds of thoughts, feelings, and conversations can arise from these kinds of opportunities.
Each person in your family will most likely process the day differently and it will be awesome to debrief together.
Hopefully these opportunities you give your children will help open their eyes to the real world, showing them that they have much to be grateful for, and also that it’s always better to give than to receive.
This is a great segway into my next point.
Open Their Eyes
Sometimes as parents I think we try to shelter our children too much because we think in the end they will be protected.
We want to preserve their innocence for as long as possible. That can be both good and bad.
If our goal is raising grateful kids, not selfish ones, then we need to open their eyes to the world around them.
We need to show our kids that they are way more blessed and fortunate than most of the world, not to make them feel amazing or prideful, but to teach them about compassion, kindness, and gratitude.
How do I “open my child’s eyes” to the real world without destroying their innocence?
I’m not talking about letting your child watch CNN or hear every gruesome story on the news. Definitely not.
But what I am saying is driving through downtown and explaining homelessness, or adopting a child from Compassion International and explaining why they need your help.
It can even be as simple as explaining why some kids at school get 2 meals a day and take food home with them on the weekends.
In her book, Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World, (my favorite parenting book by the way!) Kristen Welch delves into many ways to cultivate gratitude in her children’s hearts.
One of my favorite things she does with her 3 kids is once a week, on Monday nights, their meal consists of Rice and Beans (with some diced avocado on top).
Why does she do this?
She and her husband wanted something tangible that would really stick with their kids, when it came to teaching them gratitude.
They shared with their children that the average child gets one meal a day in many countries, oftentimes consisting of rice and beans.
Were the kids thrilled having it weekly? Many times no.
Was it a great lesson, something that will stick with them for many years to come?
I think this is a phenomenal way to have kids really experience living differently, in order to help cultivate gratitude in their hearts.
And please, if you are in need of a wonderful parenting book, Raising Grateful Kids In An Entitled World is #1 on my list!
I’ve recommended it to so many people. Click on this link and treat yourself to some fantastic parenting advice!
How does teaching responsibility help me in raising grateful kids?
Think about this scenario:
Kelly has been working really hard with her daughter on owning her choices.
Sometimes Riley seems to understand the concept and other times not so much.
On Saturday Riley had a birthday party to go to, but the understanding was the only way she’d get to go is if she completed her chores and homework each day.
Because completing tasks and following through is a hard thing for Riley, Kelly felt like this was an important time to drive home this lesson.
As the week went on, Riley faithfully did her chores and homework. On Thursday, however, she wanted to watch TV after dinner instead of doing her homework and chores.
Because Riley is in middle school, her mom didn’t feel like she should have to nag her to get her work done.
Riley knew the terms for going to the party on Saturday. “I’ll finish my homework and do my chores after I watch this show.”
10:00 rolled around and Kelly found Riley in her room, asleep for the night.
The homework was left unfinished and her chore of putting her laundry away went undone.
The next morning Kelly decided not to say anything.
Saturday came around and the party was just a few hours away. Kelly wondered if Riley still thought she could go.
Kelly went upstairs to Riley’s room and saw her picking things up off the floor and rummaging through her closet for the perfect outfit.
Guess it’s time to intervene and end this dream.
“Riley, what’s going on in here?”
“I’m just picking out the perfect outfit for the party. Which one do you like best?”
“Sweetie, they’re both beautiful, but you can’t go to Parker’s party.”
“What???? Mom, I’ve been looking forward to this ALL WEEK!”
“Riley, remember the deal? You agreed to finish all of your homework each day and your chores so that you could go to the party today. Thursday night you begged to watch TV after dinner. I didn’t want to fight you on it, so I let you do it. You fell asleep later, and you didn’t finish your chores or your homework.”
“MOM! Can’t you just show me some grace? I did everything the other 4 days. I just missed one night! This isn’t fair!”
“I love you Riley. And I know this party is important to you. But your dad and I know that learning to take responsibility for your choices is more important right now than you having fun at the party.”
“Sorry sister, the decision has been made. You will not be at that party.”
To some, this scenario may sound harsh. But don’t miss the lesson that’s being learned!
If we want our kids to learn responsibility, it has to be taught.
Give your kids consequences, follow through, and love them enough to teach them the important things.
Endure the tantrums, tears, and slamming doors.
Remember, you’re loving them by giving them boundaries and holding them to your standards.
How does gratitude come from this?
I’m pretty sure that the next time Riley has chores and homework to do, she will get them done.
She now knows what it’s like to miss out on something she was looking forward to. And Riley also knows what it will require of her to earn those special privileges in the future.
She might actually be grateful for the boundaries.
Don’t Forget To Pin This!
Practice makes progress, right?
That’s what I tell Addie all the time.
When it comes to raising grateful kids, it’s important to put gratitude into practice.
How does this play out on a daily basis?
For us, we try to have Addie think of one thing every night that she’s grateful for.
As part of her bedtime routine, each of us (Addie, Jesh, and I) say one gratitude.
Because we’ve been doing this for a while, our gratitude “muscles” are being strengthened.
Not only is it becoming easier to find things to be grateful for each day, but it’s rare for us to get through a day without mentioning a gratitude.
In seasons of life where things can be chaotic and filled with lots of disappointments (ahem…2020!!!), speaking or writing things down that you’re grateful for as a family can be very life-giving.
What a cool thing to look back on each year, reminiscing about the many blessings God has bestowed upon each person, and the fun things you were able to do as a family.
That’s my kind of activity!
But my kids are 3 and 5, should they really be expected to come up with a daily gratitude?
Start with basic things that are in their little world: snack time, toy cars, bath time, playing outside, eating ice cream, family, etc.
Once you start writing things down, the list just writes itself!
As with anything in life, the more you practice something, the more natural it will become.
I want gratitude to naturally flow from my heart and mouth.
And if gratitude is something that I want to see in my own life or in my family’s life, then I know the rewards will be well worth the effort.
Practice gratitude as a family: At the dinner table, in the car, before bed, whenever it’s convenient.
I think you’ll be encouraged by the progress that you see, in your children’s hearts and in your own as well.
That’s A Wrap
Thanks for hanging with me all the way to the end.
For my note takers out there, here are the 6 tips for raising grateful kids one more time.
6 Tips For Raising Grateful Kids
- Hard Work Matters
- Grateful For The Small Things
- Serve Together
- Open Their Eyes
- Practice Gratitude
Raising grateful kids doesn’t happen by chance. It takes time, effort, and intentionality.
But it’s completely possible!
Take things one day at a time, try out some of these tips, and watch gratitude grow in your family.
Lots of love to each of you!