Teaching Kids the Skill of Thankfulness


Teach your kids the skill of Thankfulness

Yes, you read that right. The  skill  of Thankfulness.

Perhaps you’ve never thought of thankfulness as a skill. But it is rare that you see a

child born with a thankful spirit. Rather, a grateful spirit is nurtured as it is modeled and


Thankfulness is a skill that can help your child grow a positive outlook, develop

satisfying relationships, and be better equipped to tackle the challenges that life will

throw his way.

How can you help him develop this skill?

Practice it yourself. This is undoubtably the hardest part of teaching your child a skill.

But the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work in parenting. Kids will

follow in your footsteps, no matter where they lead.

Ideas for practicing Thankfulness with your kids

Start a Thankfulness journal together.  I recently read a book called  1000 Gifts  that

challenged me to start a journal listing 1000 things to be thankful for. I m done with the

book, but the journal is ongoing. I m only at #120 and I have a feeling that it will take me

a while to reach 1000. But that’s okay, because as I remember to write things in my

thankfulness journal, I am learning the habit of being thankful.

Be Thankful for one thing at each meal.  When our kids were young, we’d go around

the dinner table and have them tell one high (good thing) and one low (not-so-good

thing) that happened to them that day. It was often easy to think of the bad thing, but

harder to think of something good. They were forced to identify something good that

happened that day–another great skill builder for thankfulness.

Fill a thankful penny jar.  Or you can make it nickels, dimes, or quarters. Every day,

when your child says something he is thankful for, add a coin to the jar.  Watch the

thankfulness grow in the jar and when it is full, take the money and buy a gift for

someone who may not have as much to be thankful for.

Practice the magic word.  My mom always said the magic word was “please,” but I

think “thank you” is just as magical. I told my kids countless times to say thank you to

people, but I knew that my reminders were pointless unless they heard me say thank

you, especially to them.  Thank you for cleaning your room. Thank you for being home

on time.   Thank you for helping with the dishes.  Let thank you be a word that is heard

often in your home.

As you practice thankfulness with your children, you will learn together: first the habit,

then the skill, and then a grateful spirit that stays with them for life.

Janis Meredith, sports mom and coachʼs wife, writes a sports
parenting blog called JBM Thinks. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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