Teaching Children to Express Gratitude


By: Laura Lebovitz | LAMFT at Grow Counseling

As the holidays approach, one of the greatest gifts you can give your kids is to strategically develop their sense of gratitude.

Rather than having the focus be on presents or parties, you have an opportunity to help them turn their attention to others and to cultivate a sense of gratitude. Studies have shown that children who regularly reflect with gratitude report a higher level of life satisfaction, more positive relationships with others, and more enjoyment of school.

Here are some ways to build gratitude in your family this holiday season:

Give Back. Children learn best from experience. Giving back to others will help your kids recognize what they have, as well as recalibrating their focus on what is truly important. Find an organization that matches your children’s interests or talents to help them connect more with the experience.  VolunteerMatch. org is a wonderful resource for opportunities.

Model gratitude. Children will learn the most about gratitude from you! Make it a regular practice to thank family members for their help. Keep a running list on the fridge of things you are thankful for. Engage the kids in random acts of kindness.
Create Traditions. For most of us, looking back on childhood, what we recall with fondness are the traditions and special moments of celebrations. Incorporate some of your favorite traditions. Charge the kids with creating a new tradition. Think outside the box – who wants milkshakes for breakfast on Christmas Eve???

Notice Blessings. Start an intentional practice of gratitude! Create a family gratitude journal and establish a moment each day to sit down and discuss the good things…friends, fall, football, and fires. Research tells us that the people who develop a habit of gratitude are happier and report more satisfactions in life. This is a great opportunity for your kids to start good habits early.

More Time, Fewer Gifts. Brainstorm ways to spend quality time with each other and build fun memories. Shifting the focus away from gifts frees up time, energy, and resources to invest in memory making and relationship building. My favorite holiday tradition from my family was each of us planned a “date” for the family…we looked forward to the “dates” all year!

With a little intentional planning, you can help your kids learn to focus on the most important things and to cultivate a life of gratitude!

Laura Lebovitz is a licensed associate marriage and family therapist that works in the Suwanee area at GROW Counseling. She received her Masters of Family Therapy from Mercer University School of Medicine. She works with children, adolescents, young adults, and families dealing with a variety of concerns. She specializes in working with anxiety, autism, self-harm, life transitions like divorce, and building healthy relationships within families.



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