Life Skills – How to Teach Kids Gratitude

Despite the many ups and downs in life, such as the global pandemic, most of us have it pretty good.  If you are reading this post, you likely have internet access, a computer, tablet, or cell phone, and the ability to read.  There are people in many parts of the world that do not have one or more of these and I would guess that everyone reading this has taken these for granted at some point if not always. In this post we will discuss how to teach kids gratitude.

There are many ways to teach kids gratitude
There are many ways to teach kids gratitude

We have so much to be grateful for such as a warm bed to sleep in, a roof over our heads, food to eat, clean water to drink, medical care, a loving family, just to name a few.  Instead of focusing on these things we tend to dwell on negative, insignificant things.

Rather than being grateful for having a car, we complain about having a car that is 5 years old when we want the newest model.  We get upset when we run out of hot water when in certain parts of the world there are people that must walk 2 hours just to access clean water.  Our internet goes out causing us to lose it when there are people who don’t even have electricity.  You get the idea.

I am not suggesting that when these inconveniences arise that we just shrug it off and be happy about it.  What I am suggesting is two things:

  1. Remember that these are minor inconveniences.  Life will go on and still be pretty darn good.
  2. Spend more time being grateful for what you have rather than what you don’t have.

If we can all spend a little more time not only being grateful but also showing gratitude towards those we care about, everyone would benefit from it.

Being thankful is one way to teach kids gratitude
Being thankful is one way to teach kids gratitude

As I outlined in Part 1 of this series, the 4 steps to teaching kids life skills are: define the word, discuss what the definition means, use examples, and discuss why it is important.  If you need more detail on the process, please go back and read Part 1.

Let’s apply the process to gratitude.

  • Define the word/topic in words they understand
    • Gratitude means “Being thankful and showing appreciation for the things in your life.”
    • During this step, simply have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.
  • Discuss what the definition means in more detail
    • Express gratitude in words:  say thank you when someone does something nice for you.  Tell your parents you love them.  Go out of your way to tell someone they are doing a great job or that you appreciate what they are doing.  These little gestures go a long way in making others feel good about themselves.
    • Express gratitude with deeds: take care of your toys by not breaking them.  Give your parents a hug and kiss.  Clean your room and make your bed without be told to.  Don’t litter or pollute the environment.  Doing these types of things shows we a grateful that we have them and want to keep them for a long time.
    • How gratitude affects others: when we show gratitude towards others, they feel great.  It boosts their confidence and increases the likelihood that they will continue doing good things.  If we ignore other people’s good deeds or actions, there is a good chance that they will eventually stop doing them.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
  • Use examples in everyday life
    • Example of gratitude in karate: the simple fact that you can go to karate classes is something to be grateful for.  Not everyone can afford lessons or has transportation to class.  Not everyone even has a studio close to home.  Tell your parents thank you for signing you up for class and for getting you to class. 
    • Example of gratitude at school/home:  doing your homework is an easy way to show gratitude to your teacher.  Your teacher spends a lot of time and effort to help you learn.  Show them you appreciate them by spending time doing what they ask you to do.  The same goes for doing your chores at home.  Your parents do a lot for you.  Show them you are grateful for all they do by contributing to the family.  Do your chores without complaining and without being told to.  Ask if there is something else you could do to help.
    • During this step, have the kids repeat the definition after you 3-5 times then have a short discussion on the topics above.  Feel free to replace the examples with ones of your own.  Substitute a different activity for karate if they don’t practice karate.  Be sure to ask them for an example first before providing yours.  Do this 2-3 time during the week.
Saying thank you is a simple way to show gratitude
Saying thank you is a simple way to show gratitude
  • Discuss why it is important
    • Why is it important to be grateful?  Appreciating what we have and what others do for us is very important.  When we are grateful for all the things we have, we can enjoy them more.  Showing gratitude towards others boosts their confidence and happiness and helps build lasting relationships with those we love.
    • During this step, briefly go over all steps 1-3 before going into this step.  Be sure to ask the kids why they think it is important before providing them with the answer.  Do this 2-3 times during the week.

Remember, it only takes less than 5 minutes, 2-3 times a week to go through these steps.  Feel free to comment or contact me with questions.

That completes my series on teaching life skills to kids!  I hope these posts were helpful for karate instructors as well as parents.

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