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Teaching kids how to express gratitude

Thank you card

What does gratitude mean to you?

Well, first it would be good to know what the word gratitude means. Gratitude is defined as the quality of being thankful or the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Now that we have the meaning of gratitude, one may ask “How do I show gratitude?” Showing gratitude for something can come in many different forms because people display their feelings in different ways. To some, showing gratitude may come in the form of a simple “Thank You” where others may show their form of gratitude through gifts.

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling gratitude in your kids at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people.

According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of School Psychology, grateful children (ages 11 to 13) tend to be happier, more optimistic, and have better social support. They also report more satisfaction with their schools, families, communities, friends, and themselves. Grateful kids also tend to give more social support to others as well.

When I was a child, I had a hard time being appreciative or showing gratitude for things because I just didn’t know how to express those feelings, nor did I understand the sacrifice being made to provide those things that were given to me.

Here are a few ways to get your child(ren) to express and show gratitude:

  • Saying “Thank You”. These two words can really go a long way and make a person feel like their giving was appreciated.
  • Get creative! Let your child write, draw, and color cards to the person that they would like to express gratitude towards.
  • Have a discussion with your child about what they think gratitude means and what they think it is. This will not only help them know what gratitude is but this will also allow them to know the different ways gratitude can be shown. Children are inquisitive and want to know how things work. Having these conversations with them and allowing them to explain themselves openly is a great thing.
  • Give back. Another way to show acts of gratitude with your family is to take them to underserved areas and/or get them involved with community service work. Helping others who are less fortunate is always a great way to teach children gratitude. Allowing to engage in volunteer work also humbles them and lets them know that we are all human and need help from time to time.

In the spirit of gratitude, what are we at Lowcountry Parent grateful for? You! Our readers. And our team of contributors who help make us the Lowcountry's top family resource! Head over to @LowcountryParent on Instagram and tell us what you're thankful for. 

Jessie Demalo is a mom, fashion blogger, online clothing boutique owner and 10-year veteran of the North Charleston Police Department.