16 Mar 10 Creative Gratitude Activities for Kids
“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
– Amy Collette
What is gratitude? This is a question that you will want your child to be able to answer as early as possible so that he is less likely to take what he has for granted while growing up.
Too many stories about ungrateful kids should have made the importance of appreciation clear. A study by Sara Algoe, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina says as much with regard to gratitude’s effects on people’s lives.
“[G]ratitude is important for forming and maintaining the most important relationships of our lives, those with the people we interact with every day,”
Fortunately, you can still teach your own child gratitude with the gratitude activities for kids that we will be talking about here.
What is Gratitude in Children?
Gratitude in children is more than just saying “Thank You” every time they get something. It’s about being able to recognize when someone is doing something nice for them.
It’s about seeing the value of what they have and were given, regardless of whether it is a physical object or something more intangible like love.
Unfortunately, young minds have yet to grasp these things without appropriate guidance. They eventually would, as they grow, but the benefits of understanding gratitude would diminish considerably.
At the end of the day, gratitude is all about having good interpersonal relationships with people.
Why Foster Gratitude in Kids?
There are many reasons why fostering gratitude in children is a good thing, but in general, it’s about making sure that they have a higher chance of living a happy life.
As noted by WorkItDaily.com Founder and CEO, J.T. O’Donnell in a piece published over at Inc., gratitude is actually a key aspect in gaining more success.
“Besides making you look more successful, gratitude offers another benefit: All that positive energy makes you feel more confident. Especially when you see your gratitude having the desired effect on others,” she writes.
That is just one example of how gratitude benefits people, as well. In children, being grateful and showing appreciation to the efforts of others makes them easier to love.
This would then perpetuate a cycle of love where others will want to support and love your child, while he shows that he appreciates all that he is getting.
Showing gratitude also helps your child in:
- Forming and retaining lifelong friendships
- Fostering better relationships with authority figures like teachers
- Strengthening his bond within the family
- Securing the parent-child relationship
- Improving his academic and extracurricular activities
On the flipside, the lack of gratitude can have some very serious consequences for your child, which could permanently impact his life.
Consequences of Raising an Ungrateful Child
Just as raising a grateful child can have significant and lifelong benefits, raising ungrateful children can lead to incredibly damaging results.
Among the most serious of these are:
- A dangerous ego – It’s important for children to have a healthy sense of self but the absence of gratitude can lead to the development of an unhealthy ego.
Whereas a healthy ego allows your child to be secure in himself enough to accept help, an unhealthy one can lead him to believe that he needs no one. This could damage his chances of forming strong bonds with others.
- Bad company – A side-effect of having an unhealthy ego is the tendency to want followers rather than friends.
This could lead your child to surround himself with people who will only stroke his ego and butter him up for their own advantage.
- Sense of entitlement – One of the most dangerous traits that a child can develop is feeling entitled to everything.
This makes him less likely to put in the time and effort to achieve anything and only expects things to go right just because, in his mind, they were meant to.
- Brittle self-confidence – When things go wrong for an ungrateful child, it can shatter his self-confidence, thus throwing him into a spiral of negative emotions.
He could wall himself up, preferring to wallow in depression, anger, and self-pity. If not corrected immediately, this could make him prone to self-destructive behavior.
- Becoming a bully – Ungrateful children tend to lack empathy, which means that they are more prone to bullying behavior.
If your child cannot appreciate what he has, he cannot understand the pain of others. Even if he himself is not the main perpetrator, he might just join in on the abuse because he is unable to sympathize with the victim.
None of those scenarios are desirable and yet, they are what is waiting for your child if he continues to lack gratitude. This is why it’s important for you to come up with creative and effective activities to impart such a characteristic.
How to Raise Grateful Children?
When it comes to raising grateful children, a lot of it comes down to the methods that you use. Creative activities that help make them more engaged and invested are your best bet.
With that being the case, here are some great suggestions to teach your child gratitude:
- Gratitude Notebook – A gratitude notebook is exactly what it sounds like in that it is a notebook where your child can write down all of the things that he was grateful for that day.
However, rather than buying this notebook, you can make it instead. You can purchase some papers, punch holes through them and then tie them with threads.
You can then make a cover using plastic or cardboard paper, which you can decorate with drawings or stickers of things that your child loves. This makes the notebook more personal.
- Gratitude Jar – Same with the gratitude notebook, a gratitude jar is just a jar that you decorate with your child and which he fills every day with one slip of colored paper. That paper contains the one thing that your child is most grateful for that day.
As the jar gets filled up, your child will see all of the good things that he has to be thankful for. This will make them more appreciative.
- Thank You Game – The thank you game is basically a points-based activity where your child and other participants will think of things that they appreciate about each other.
You can start with just you and him, and you tally the results at the end of the day on a whiteboard, which is also decorated. Whoever wins gets a prize but the rules should be clear.
Specifically, you need to stress that the things to be thankful for should be real. Regardless of how small the act may be, as long as your child truly appreciates them, they can be counted.
- Gratitude Window – Gratitude windows are basically glass window panes that are clear and easy to write on. Using colored pens, you and your child could take turns writing about what you are thankful for about each other.
You can then leave these alone forever or change them as you see fit.
- Thank You Collage Cards – Finally, we are mixing up two gratitude activities that are usually on lists like this.
Thank you collage cards are thank you cards that have more oomph. They contain things like magazine cutouts, dried plants or flowers, hand-crafted drawings, and more.
The more intricate the detail, the more gratitude is being expressed. This allows you and your child to go all-out.
Making the learning process more fun for kids is an incredibly important process of their development. This applies to everything else you want them to learn, including honesty, patience, and hard work.
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