Looking for gratitude for kids ideas? I’m sharing 3 simple steps, plus thankfulness activities, thankfulness books, and other resources.
Have you ever met someone who was literally grateful for every single thing? My friend Debby is like that. She verbally speaks thanksgiving over the little annoyances in life just as much as the really hard things. In fact, she is intentional to speak words of thanks over every single thing. Often.
Being around Debby challenges me to always look for something that I can be thankful about. But it doesn’t stop there. We moved to a new town 7 years ago and I no longer see Debby on a regular basis. But her thankfulness still impacts me daily.
I’ll never forget the day I met her mom. She literally thanked me for the opportunity to meet me. Haha. I realized something powerful as a parent that day. The things we say and do REALLY matter. Debby was thankful because her mom was thankful.
So what do you say we commit to teaching our children to give thanks in ALL things? No, it’s not a guarantee. I’ve modeled brushing my teeth for decades and some unnamed boys in my house still haven’t caught on. Haha.
But in a society that’s full of “gimme, gimme” and “have it your way” we can’t afford to give up. Let’s keep intentionally teaching gratitude!
I want my kids to gather together and enjoy the fellowship of Thanksgiving, but more importantly, I want them to enjoy the blessing of the practice of giving thanks.
Gratitude for Kids Step 1: Model thankfulness
As parents, we know that our children will learn more from watching us live life than they will from listening to our words, which means we must be more intentional about how we model thankfulness.
The Bible calls us to teach as we walk along the way (Deut. 6). This means we are to teach thankfulness in the everyday parts of life. When you see a beautiful sunset, thank God for it. When you get an extra paycheck, thank God for it. If we truly believe that God is at work in every good thing (James 1:17) then we will truly offer up thanks for every single thing in life.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. I Thessalonians 5:18
Yes, God said every single thing. The good things, the everyday things, and even the hard things. Well, especially the hard things. If we believe that God’s Word is true then we must learn to be thankful even in the hard things. Modeling this for our kids will truly change who they are!
Remember, be like Debby’s mom. While it’s not a guarantee, you know you can count on the kids to model even one breath of grumbling, right? (Why does it always work that way!)
Find Excellent Role Models for Your Kids
In addition to modeling it yourself, if you want thankful kids, find thankful role models for them. This could be people at your church, friends, or family members. It also might be people they meet in the Bible. Don’t underestimate the power of character studies to help you see biblical people as role models for your kids!
A supplement to the Bible would be missionary stories such as Corrie Ten Boon, George Muller or Hudson Taylor. I like these stories because they offer great value in helping children understand how much they really do have. This is also a great way to demonstrate thankfulness in hard situations. The biographies of missionaries allow children to experience real life difficulties and watch as the missionaries thank God even for the worst of circumstances. For deeper study of the lives of missionaries, check out To Every Nation.
Step 2: Record thankfulness
Why do we write down a shopping list before we head out to the store? We want to remember all the items we need to purchase.
This is a practice we should utilize for teaching thankfulness to our children (and ourselves). There are several occasions in the Bible where the children of Israel were guilty of great sin simply because they did not remember the great things God had done for them. We need to be very careful not to fall into that trap ourselves.
Thankfulness for what God has granted will guard us from sin, help us live a more godly life, and draw us closer to God.
Gratitude Journals for Kids
There are so many different ways to keep a list. Perhaps my favorite is a family prayer journal. This is the place where we can record the many blessings that God has given us as well as our prayer requests as a family. Not only does this practice model great habits for our children, it serves as an amazing family heirloom.
Last year, we also started keeping a gratitude journal for kids. The kids loved having their own lists. I created a simple little printable to help them categorize things they were thankful for. This made it much easier to come up with new things to write down.
Step 3: Teach thankfulness
It’s funny how we often miss this, but intentional teaching is a requirement of all good parenting. We cannot expect our children to know why or how to do something we have never taught them.
We need to teach them exactly what to be thankful for and the Bible has all of those answers. It says God is great and all of His promises are true. It also says God created us, adopted us, forgives us, and works everything for our good. If we truly believe that, it’s difficult not to overflow with thanksgiving, isn’t it?
Contentment Bible Study
To help my kids with this, I wrote a simple Bible study teaching the importance of contentment. The impact of studying God’s perspective on this topic has been incredible for our family. Click below to learn more.
Thanksgiving Hymn Study
We also spend the early weeks in November working through, Still Singing, a hymn study teaching the stories behind the lyrics and the Scripture behind the story. It’s a great way to grow thankfulness as a family as we cover several beloved thanksgiving hymns: “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” “The Doxology” and “Count Your Blessings.”
15 Books that Teach Thankfulness
Another great way to encourage thankfulness is through reading great literature. I love thought-provoking read-alouds, such as missionary biographies, just as much as the beautiful picture books my kids can pick up on their own.
There is absolutely nothing better than sitting in mom’s lap or snuggling close for a precious story. These books will create memories and warm your hearts.
I pray that you are encouraged to teach thankfulness not just this month, but all year long. With a little bit of intentionality, gratefulness will be the tone of your family every day!