3 Ways to Teach Kids Gratitude

80402830Thanksgiving is right around the corner. I can hardly believe that we are entering the holiday season. With a blink of an eye, the New Year will be here sooner than we know. Thanksgiving is a holiday of gratitude for a bountiful harvest. The first Thanksgiving in 1621 celebrated gratitude with a harvest feast between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag.

How do you communicate the underlying message of gratitude to your family especially with teens or tweens? As young children, we are taught to use manners saying please and thank you. But, gratitude is more than just saying thank you. According to Barbara Fredrickson, Phd., author of Positivity, gratitude is one of the ten forms of positivity. “Gratitude is not mindless manners or tit-for-tat reciprocity. True gratitude is heartfelt and unscripted,” according to Dr. Fredrickson. Really appreciating someone’s helpful actions towards you or the motivation to help others like the famous movie, Pay It Forward, reflects the true meaning of gratitude. How do you demonstrate gratitude at home?

Gratitude is one of the seven characteristics shown to build character as shared in the book, How Children Succeed, by Paul Tough. Research shows that these characteristics help children have greater success in their future. How do you instill this in your children?

Unfortunately, there is no magic answer especially with teens. I am new to the teen world and it seems like my sweet caring children have become possessed by attitude driven desires. However, we have their early upbringing of strong family values to reference regularly including gratitude.


A few tips that I recommend and do myself include:

  1. Be a role model

As parents, sometime we use the “because I said so” excuse a lot especially with debating teens. Demonstrating gratitude in the home helps children understand how they can help others without expecting something in return. Show your children you care and want to be there for them all the time. Help ease the pressures of the teen years by helping them achieve success through gratitude and love.

  1. Community Service

j0403670Florida helps our cause for community service. If your child wants to apply for a Bright Futures Scholarship, they will need a specific number of community service hours during high school. This past summer my son earned community service hours as a junior counselor at one of his favorite summer camps. Giving back in the community is critical for kids to learn gratitude. As a family, you can help serve food at Metropolitan Ministries. You can build a home with Habitat for Humanity. Get double the benefit by doing community service as a family and earn your teen their required hours. Gratitude for everyone!

  1. Earn Screen time and Unplug

In our home, we differentiate between educational and emergency device use from free screen time use. Free screen time may include face timing friends, video games, TV shows and computer time. Free screen time is earned which helps children appreciate their access even more. Also, be aware of what and how they are communicating on their devices. This is an entire different discussion on on-line safety.

Try getting unplugged for one day or even just one night. Family game nights are a fun way to enjoy a screen free night. This may be hard for kids since they live in such a tech world.

Gratitude is defined as “the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.” Thanksgiving is about showing gratitude for our family, friends, and the food at our holiday celebration. Bring the feeling of Thanksgiving to your home each and everyday by embodying gratitude in your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Carrie S. synthesized her corporate expertise, educator background and passion as a mother to develop the award-winning Exploracise® program and Fun Wise™ Exercise methodology. Inspired by her two gifted and high-energy children, Aaron and Felicia, she created fun educational products and programs to help children develop a love of learning and healthy lifestyle. Carrie is married to Adam Scheiner M.D., world-renowned Laser Eyelid and Facial Plastic Surgeon, for more than 17 years and has lived in Tampa for over14 years. Find Carrie playing with kids around Tampa, sharing ideas on Facebook or Twitter, and developing new educational games at Exploracise.com.