Teaching Gratitude to Young Children

How to teach your young child gratitude and how to be thankful:

teaching gratitude

Do you know how to break down what being thankful is? What does it mean to you? This is a great time of year to introduce these philosophical concepts to your children. Webster dictionary defines gratitude as the state of being grateful and defines thankful as filled with gratitude. So how do we introduce this to our kids?

Explaining what gratitude means to young children:

Ages: 2 and older

What is works on: Language Development & Cognitive Thinking

Here is how I explained it to my young child; it went something like this: me: “Do you know what it means to have gratitude or to be thankful?” A: “no.” Me: “well they both mean the same thing. It means to be happy about something or someone. It means to be glad about it. So, I am thankful that I have such a sweet daughter and a sweet son like you and J, and I am thankful to have yummy food to eat, and I am thankful When daddy helps me clean the dishes in the sink. You try now, what are you thankful or happy for?” A: “I am thankful for treats.” Me: “that is a wonderful thing to be thankful for. I am also thankful for treats.”

Spend some time going back and forth on things both you and your child are grateful for. The more you talk about it, the more the concept will root in.

teaching gratitude


An exercise or activity to help practice gratitude with young children is by simply talking about it every day. At our local dollar store, they had a cute chalkboard that says “I am thankful for” then you fill it in each day. Start or end your day with talking and recalling about what we are thankful for. With an older child, they can write it themselves, or they can copy the letters onto the board if you give them the spelled-out word on a piece of paper next to them. For a younger child, have them draw a picture of what they are thankful for. This is a very simple, yet effective exercise in introducing the concept of gratitude to young children.

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