On Kids and Gratitude


On Kids and Gratitude

By Krista Martinelli

The holidays are a great opportunity to cultivate gratitude in your children.  Thanksgiving is a time of giving thanks and even young kids can participate in giving thanks.  As we move closer to Chrimg_5497istmas and Hanukkah, gratitude is especially important too.  Our children are the recipients of many gifts, and expressing gratitude is always a good thing.


Ages 3 & Under

“This stage offers a great opportunity to teach contentment,” says Daniel P. Huerta, executive director of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family, “which is an essential ingredient for gratitude in later years.” No matter your religion, just a simple prayer of “Thank you for this food” is a good one at the table, a prayer that is immediately understood by all.


Ages 4 to 7

Children of these ages are happy to serve others.  Doing simple, satisfying things like making place cards for everyone at the table or setting the table lets them be a part of the festivities.  They can also help with some of the steps of preparing their favorite dishes (with supervision).  This not only helps them feel good, but helps them understand what it feels like to be served.


Ages 8 to 11

In addition to helping out with meal preparation and with tasks around the house, this is a good time for children to learn about need in the community around them and around the world.  By being aware of those in need, they learn compassion and empathy. This is when awareness begins.


Ages 12 to 18

Service.  This is a time when kids are ready to help out in the community.  By volunteering at a soup kitchen or animal shelter, they learn the value of what they can do for others.  By helping a neighbor in need, they learn how to be a good neighbor.  Despite the distraction of puberty and lots of emotions coming to the surface, kids in this age range really benefit by volunteering and helping others.


Service and Kindness

While your kids are rapidly growing up, it’s important to take time out to serve others, be kind and take a few moments to talk about what you are grateful for.  This doesn’t have to be just around the holidays – it can continue throughout the year.  Before a meal or before bed time seem to be good times to share gratitude.


Here’s hoping you have a wonderful holiday season with much to be grateful for and a terrific New Year!