Here are four of the most significant actions you can take to teach gratitude and raise grateful kids:
1) We tend to take for granted what we already have in our lives. One way to teach children gratitude at the most basic level is by volunteering at soup kitchens, shelters, orphanages, nursing homes, and letting your child work along side you whenever possible. When children experience the gratitude of others for basic necessities such as food, shelter, and companionship, they are more likely to recognize and be grateful for these things in their own lives. This is "foundational gratitude”.
2) Children learn through the example you set. Look around for opportunities to help others, whether this means giving your left over food to the homeless or donating your coins to charities. (Some of these coin collection boxes are located where your child can easily see you give, for example the Ronald McDonald House often has a box near the check-out). Try a new twist on an old game by playing "i-spy gratitude" --in this version the player who wins is the one who spies the most opportunties to help others. Through being generous your child learns to give and in some cases will have the opportunity to witness the gratitude of others (for example, when you give food to the homeless).
3) Give children manageable tasks so they can earn money and save it toward items they want, encourage the child set aside a portion of the money to give to those less fortunate. If you’d rather not give an allowance, you can teach your child how to create something he or she can share with others. For example, a child who learns to knit can create a scarf and give it to a shelter; a child who learns to garden can share produce; a child who learns to bake can donate food, and so forth.
4)) Media is a powerful tool. Use it as an ally to help you teach your child about generosity and gratitude. Potential movies include: It's A Wonderful Life; Harvey; Groundhog Day. Go online and find inspirational quotations to frame and hang on the wall in your child's bedroom. Watch inspirational campaigns at The Foundation For A Better Life. Teach your child about “digital altruism”—using the Internet to help others through simple online actions, for example, clicking-to-donate (it costs nothing!). Good websites to use include Care2.com and Bhookh.com