Gratitude for Kids: Simple Exercises

A daily gratitude practice trains our minds to notice the good things happening each day. Similarly, gratitude for kids involves helping them to reflect on their day and notice something they’re grateful for. With time and practice, they’ll soon be able to recognize all the little moments they’re grateful for on their own, without any prompting.

Building Mental Resiliency

As a military family, resiliency is drilled into our heads. The member need to be resilient. The spouse needs the be resilient. The kids need to be resilient.

One of the ways we help our kids become more resilient is by teaching them to recognize all the things they have to be grateful for. Even when they have a bad day, there is always going to be at least one small moment they can be grateful for.

We hope that by teaching them to look for the good, process the bad, and move on, they’ll be mentally tough enough to handle the ups and downs that life and the world will throw at them.

Daily Gratitude for Kids

Most days, our gratitude practice with two young kids is very simple. At dinner or bedtime, we talk through the events of their day. From breakfast to bedtime, we talk about what we did. When they mention something good that happened, we say, “I’m so grateful you had a fun time playing on the trampoline with your sister!” And we repeat that sentence for all the good things they remember.

Then we talk about what could’ve gone better. When the kids will tell us something that they didn’t like about the day, and we’ll talk through the emotions they felt and how we can handle those emotions better next time.

Talking through the day helps them to process what happened and gives us an opportunity to correct behaviors when they’re no longer upset or in the heat of the moment.

During the month of November, we put an extra emphasis on gratitude in preparation for Thanksgiving and the holiday season. So, we introduce a very special gratitude practice that gets us all excited to think about all the blessings we have in our lives.

Gratitude Turkey

Each November, we make a gratitude turkey. Susie at Busy Toddler first introduced us to this idea a couple of years ago, and it is something even the youngest toddlers can understand at a basic level.

gratitude practice

On November 1st, we grab the construction paper and scissors and cut out a turkey body. Then, we cut out over 100 turkey feathers. Starting that night, we each write down one thing we are grateful for on a turkey feather and tape it behind the turkey’s body. By the end of the month, the turkey has a massive plume of feathers that we read each night to remind us of all the ways we’ve been blessed that month. The visual reminder really reinforces gratitude for kids.

gratitude activities

Adaptions for young kids

For kids that can’t read, we draw pictures next to the words, so they know what each feather means. When they struggle to come up with something they’re grateful for, we talk about their day. We walk them through what they did that day, ask what made them happy, what was the best part, what was fun, or what they liked the most. That phrasing is easier and more concrete for teaching gratitude for kids.

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