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Teaching Kids an Attitude of Gratitude

In the lead up to Christmas and the holiday season, kids are bombarded with messages of what they ‘must have’. While you can tell kids to be grateful for what they already have, the benefit comes when they experience gratitude for themselves. You can help them do this by incorporating gratitude exercises in the following ways:

1. Shopping for others
Choosing a toy(s) for the Christmas toy drive and shopping for the food bank at the grocery store provide opportunities to teach kids about generosity and also allow them to witness firsthand the kindness of others when you and your child deliver these items to the respective depots.
2. Getting involved
Giving your kids tasks and chores to help prepare for the holidays helps teach them self-reliance, responsibility and appreciation for the time and effort it takes to make things happen. Practice gratitude by valuing their efforts and emphasizing the importance of their contribution, even if they don’t live up to your expectations.
3. Making gifts
Children can find joy in giving by making thoughtful gifts like baking cookies, crafting or offering their time through activities like dog walking, pet sitting or chores, demonstrating generosity and kindness in a meaningful way.
4. Celebrating beyond exchanging gifts
The most valuable gift you can give children is your time. Establishing holiday traditions, like watching favourite movies, visiting decorated streets, baking cookies, playing board games and writing cards, can create lasting memories. For instance, in our family, my Mum continues the tradition of reading The Night Before Christmas every Christmas Eve.
5. Guiding children to make thoughtful choices
Encourage self-reflection by asking, “Are you choosing to be grateful or greedy?” When you observe greedy behavior, this question prompts them to consider their actions. Follow up by asking, “What choice would you make to show you are being grateful?” This approach helps them recognize alternative choices and encourages mindful behavior.
6. Writing thank you notes
After the holidays, have your children write thank you notes to each person they received a gift from and why they appreciated it. This will help them feel grateful for what they have received while acknowledging the people who have been generous to them.

Incorporating these gratitude exercises into your family’s holiday traditions can transform your children’s experience, fostering generosity, mindfulness and appreciation.

Sara Westbrook is a professional speaker and creator of UPower Inc, offering keynotes, presentations and workshops on ‘Emotions Change Choices’ to audiences ages 4 -100. She can be found at sarawestbrook.com or on Instagram @iamsarawestbrook.


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