In this day and age, there’s a tendency for more indulgent and less grateful behaviour. But nobody wants to bring another spoiled child to the world.
And you can teach them to say thank you, but that alone isn’t enough and doesn’t create an appreciative person. It’s the meaningful expressions of gratitude that catch people off-guard and make their day. So, what matters is that your child genuinely feels gratitude instead of merely saying things out of politeness.
If you want to know how to make your child more grateful and design gratitude rituals for the whole family, continue reading the article.
How to Create a Gratitude Family Ritual
Without further ado, here’s how to go about explaining and practicing gratitude with your children. Following these steps will help you develop a whole ritual and raise the most considerate children.
Talk to Your Children
Positive traits don’t just magically manifest in children; they have to be instilled. So, if you want to raise happy and grateful children, it’s essential to talk to them about what gratitude even means to start with.
So, talk to your children about how good it feels to remember and appreciate everything good in our lives instead of just taking it for granted. Whether it’s material objects, good company, or a comfortable life, it’s crucial to be mindful of what we have and use this newfound happiness to spread love and generosity around.
Put Things Into Perspective
Your kid may already be grateful but needs someone else’s guidance to show them the bigger picture.
For example, try to explain to them the difference between needs and wants. To illustrate, needing something means that you can’t survive without it, while wanting something means that it isn’t necessary but would be nice to have. When a child understands the difference between these two, they learn how to appreciate their privileges more.
In addition, since children’s perspective is limited by what you show them, try to teach them about the less fortunate. You don’t have to go into too much detail, but say enough to help them understand that people don’t enjoy the same blessings in life.
By doing so, you hit two birds with one stone: the child becomes more grateful for what they have, and they become more sympathetic towards others.
Set an Example
You can always tell your kids to do this or do that, but it won’t stick if you don’t set an example and practice what you preach. So, model thankfulness and gratitude as often as possible to ensure that they’re learning from you.
For instance, thank the teachers, babysitters, and anyone who knows you and your child in front of them so that they develop the habit themselves. And don’t forget to emphasise gratitude for the thought behind a gift instead of what the present is.
Give Them Credit
Don’t thank the waitress, doorman, driver, or stranger holding the door open for you, only to forget to thank your child. Children crave positive reinforcement because it tells them that they’ve done good. So, thank your child whenever they help you with something, even if it’s a chore they already had to do.
More importantly, reward them for practicing gratitude in the way that feels natural to them. For example, you may express your appreciation verbally and physically, while your child prefers to write notes and letters to whomever they feel thankful to. And let them know that whatever mode of gratitude they’re most comfortable with is valid.
12 Gratitude Family Rituals to Try
Now that your child has a good idea about gratitude, it’s time to incorporate some gratitude rituals into your family life. Here are our 13 suggestions for gratitude family rituals, how to practice them, and why they’re worth trying.
We can’t discuss gratitude family rituals without mentioning the big one. Journaling is one of the most effective ways to reduce stress levels, improve sleep quality, lower the risk of heart disease, decrease heart pressure, and improve one’s overall health and well-being.
So, it comes as no surprise that it’s such a popular practice with endless prompts and templates all over the internet. But, when you think about it, there’s no easier way for your child to dip their toes into practicing gratitude than journaling.
All they have to do is think about something they’re grateful for and write it down, whether it’s on a physical notebook or a smart device. Remember that it’s best to get as specific as possible when journaling to strengthen gratitude for everything, no matter how seemingly small. Also, keep journaling self-paced and relaxed rather than forced.
Moreover, the most significant advantage to journaling is that you can always come back to what you wrote to feel instantly better on days when you need a pick-me-up.
Your child may find it hard at first to think of things that they’re grateful for or to articulate them. But you can guide them through gratitude prompts that serve as an exercise for gratitude journaling. Ask your child if they’re ready to play a game of fill in the blanks. Examples include:
- I enjoyed school today because_________________.
- My cat makes me happy because_________________.
- My most favourite smell is_________.
- My favourite spot in town is_________________.
- I look up to_________________.
- My favourite memory with my dad is_________.
- I’m grateful for living in_________________.
- I feel my happiest when I’m with_________.
- Music makes me feel_________________.
- My favourite stuffed animal is called_________.
2. Gratitude Jar
Another widespread practice of expressing gratitude is the gratitude jar. It’s effective because it feels like a reward. Instead of coins, children and family members find something more sustainable and meaningful: things to be grateful for.
So, encourage your children to write whatever is making them feel grateful at any given moment on a small piece of paper and put it into the jar. Also, you can schedule a time of the year to open the jar, such as Thanksgiving or Christmas. Then, when the time comes, read everything together, and reflect on your blessings.
If you’d like a more accessible alternative to closed jars, a bulletin gratitude board would be nice. Instead of putting the notes in a jar where they’re mostly hidden, tacking them up on a board helps your family visualise how blessed they are.
Furthermore, encourage everyone to participate and not repeat anything that someone else writes to ensure that there’s something new to read every day.
3. Gratitude Garden or Rocks
There are gratitude gardens, trees, flowers, rocks, and more. And they all burn down to the same concept: documenting gratitude in a creative, tangible way that’s more fun to look back on. You use paper that you cut and glue together to make flowers and trees with petals and leaves, and kids fill them with everything their family is grateful for.
In addition, they can collect nice-looking, soft rocks and write on them or decorate them with words or phrases that remind them of their blessings.
Also, gratitude rocks are pretty popular because you can keep them in your pocket, use them as decoration around the house, or hang them on a necklace. There’s no limit to what you can do with them, and that’s what makes them so appealing.
4. Gratitude Box
A gratitude box is another creative way to keep all these positive thoughts in one place, which you can always add too. So, all you need is an empty box, pieces of paper, and a pen. Also, try decorating the box with your family to make this ritual even more fun.
Moreover, you can use it like a jar for the whole family, which is common. Another handy suggestion is to have your kid fill the gratitude box up with gratitude notes and gift it to a family member when it’s full. Imagine how wholesome it’d be to receive such a thoughtful gift, and it won’t cost much.
5. Photo Collage
In the digital age, we take pictures of everything all the time to the point where they’ve lost their meaning or sentimental value. So, what you’ll do is to increase their sentimental value by making family photo collages just for you and your family.
To do this, take pictures in happy moments that you want to document, and save them for years to come instead of mindlessly capturing everything. In other words, collect the moments that matter so that you can put them all in one place.
Then, you can browse through them with the rest of your family whenever you feel the bittersweetness of nostalgia or whenever you need to remind yourself and your family of how lucky you are.
6. Gratitude Walk
Nature is always around us, yet we barely show it the attention it deserves in the digital age. So, a digital detox can do wonders for your family, and a gratitude walk is even better.
To elaborate, a gratitude walk helps your family connect with nature and scenery that they mostly ignore because their minds are occupied with something else. It also gets you moving around after an entire day of sitting glued to all kinds of screens.
In short, this ritual helps your family with gratitude, walking, and meditation simultaneously. You’ll feel happier, healthier, and more in the moment the more you take gratitude walks with your family.
7. Reading Books on Gratitude
If you feel that you aren’t eloquent enough to explain how important gratitude is to your children and family, there’s another way.
While there’s an abundance of self-help books out there that promise to unlock some secret superpower, there are plenty of children’s books on gratitude that are worth your time. These books discuss gratitude in more depth and help children become more mindful of their blessings and generous to others.
8. Volunteering and Giving
All parents talk to their children about less fortunate people at some point, but what better way for your child to become aware of them than volunteering or doing charity? After all, gratitude isn’t just something to merely practice with family and friends; it’s the generosity that we extend to those in need.
So, cook with your children for the hungry, hand out toys at a children’s hospital, participate in community cleanups to save the environment, volunteer at an animal’s shelter, help out at the local library, plant flowers and herbs in a community garden, and donate canned foods to a local food bank. The possibilities are endless, and your children will thank you for the experience, no pun intended.
9. Writing Thank-You Letters
While saying thank you to everyone is appreciated, many children find themselves more expressive and genuine in writing. How many parents have saved the most adorable notes from their children over the years and smiled every time they saw them?
And you can help your children write down their feelings of gratitude towards a kind person and mail it to spread the love around. Also, the person they write a letter to could be a real person or even fictional. Whoever makes children happy deserves a letter.
10. Making Gifts Together
Everyone buys gifts for others, but we can all agree that homemade gifts feel more personal and authentic than their store-bought counterparts. So, teach your child the difference, and guide them through making someone a gift.
And it could be a homemade cake, a framed picture, a painting, a pirate treasure chest, play dough, sock toys, activity boards, or something else. The point is that the possibilities are endless and that the thought always matters more.
When people hear the word “meditation”, the first thing that comes to mind is someone on a yoga mat meditating alone. What if we told you that you can meditate with your family? You do, and meditation helps everyone, regardless of their age, become more mindful of their surroundings, emotions, and blessings.
Accordingly, when the whole family practices meditation together, they achieve a harmonious state of peace that other families would dream of. Moreover, it’s one of the healthiest ways to bond with your family and increase their appreciation for everything that they have.
More importantly, there are plenty of mantras for gratitude that the whole family can repeat until their meanings are engraved within their minds and hearts.
12. Bedtime Gratitude
Bedtime stories are fun and calming, but you can take them a step further by adding gratitude to your child’s bedtime routine. After you finish telling them a story and before they fall asleep, ask them to recount everything that’s positive about the day and what they’re grateful for.
Even better, try to center your bedtime stories around the theme of gratitude and what happens to people who take their blessings for granted.
As you can see, creating gratitude family rituals isn’t tricky at all. Examples of gratitude family rituals that you can practice include journaling and making gratitude jars, gardens, boxes, collages, and homemade gifts.
Also, you can establish other family rituals, including taking gratitude walks, reading books on gratitude, volunteering, doing charity, writing thank-you letters, meditating, and expressing gratitude at bedtime.