Teaching Children Thankfulness

Thanksgiving traditions make for fun and memorable holidays. These traditions usually include family gatherings, turkey dinners, board games and afternoons watching football. However, as families enjoy their time together, it’s also important to remember the reason for the holiday—thankfulness.


How can you teach your children thankfulness and incorporate more gratitude in your holiday? More importantly, how can thankfulness become a regular part of your family dynamic?


Here are several ways to teach children thankfulness all year round:

Grow a List


Measure out a piece of craft paper to equal your child’s height. Tape it to the back of their door and ask them to list the things they are thankful for each day. Allow them to use a step stool to reach the top (with your supervision of course). Once their list is filled from top to bottom, roll it up and save it for Thanksgiving Day. Your children will love sharing what they wrote. And if you remember to date it, it will serve as a fun reminder of how tall they were that year!

Give a Gratitude Journal


Give your children a Gratitude Journal or notebook where they can draw pictures or write what they’re thankful for. Each evening, allow your children to share what they created. Keeping a journal is a wonderful practice in general, but keeping a Gratitude Journal is an even better way to teach thankfulness!

Offer Three Positives


Everyone gets grumpy and out of sorts. But it’s how we deal with our grumpiness that matters. Teach your children to think of three positive things every time they feel upset. For example: if your child is frustrated that bad weather ruined their plans, encourage them to think of three positive things such as: rain makes the flowers grow, wind helps the trees take root, and lightning is fun to observe while safely inside.


Teaching your children to think of three positives for every negative develops healthier thought patterns and helps them be more thankful—even when things don’t go their way.

Thank Others Often


A big part of being thankful is being aware. Teach your children thankfulness by pointing out what others do for them and reminding them to say “thank you” aloud. Parents, siblings, teachers and friends all deserve to be noticed for the commendable things they do.


Ask your children how they feel when others appreciate them and use those examples as a teaching tool to instill a heart of thankfulness. Be sure to praise your child when they start thanking people on their own. This will encourage them to keep being mindful of others and verbalizing their gratitude. 


Thanksgiving is a wonderful day of celebration, and a good reminder to be thankful for God’s blessings, but it’s not the only day of the year to be thankful. Start now by teaching your children thankfulness no matter what day or month of the year it is!