Inside: Help kids focus on being more grateful with these appreciation notes they can write and leave for friends, family, and teachers.
It was a crummy, no good day so I planned on ice cream for dessert.
I scooped out bowls of ice cream and instead of my kids thanking me and getting excited, they followed it up with a few questions:
Can we have chocolate syrup?
Can we have whipped cream? A cherry? Sprinkles?
They weren’t grateful for the ice cream.
They wanted more.
And as my hubby pointed out, they always wanted more.
We both winced and then wondered: Are we raising entitled children who only ask for more rather than kids who are grateful for what they do have?
Parenting is full of fine lines. We want to give our kids “nice things,” special treats and gifts when we can… but we need to teach them to appreciate what they have or what they get and not feel compelled to instinctively always ask for more.
We want them to be grateful and truly appreciate the ice cream without being bummed it wasn’t offered as a sundae.
So we have to help them focus on the good things and good people they have in their lives and then, more importantly, take the time to think about why they appreciate what they have.
Why Being Grateful is Crucial
Research has shown us time and time again that grateful people are happier people.
When we take the time to appreciate the world around us and what we have, we focus on the things that really matter.
We focus on our family. We focus on our health. We focus on the fact we are where we are and can take a deep breath in.
Our kids are no different.
When children take the time to focus on what they’re thankful for, they will have more positive moments in their days. More reasons to find internal happiness. More reasons to feel love and peace and mindfulness.
And kids who are satisfied and happy with what they have and don’t constantly search for more or need to have more or wish they had more will feel more content. More joy. Even more happiness.
Related: How to Help an Unhappy Child Find Happiness (Hint: It’s Gratitude!!!)
And in turn, grateful kids will lead happier lives. They’ll spread that happiness and joy to others. So raising grateful kids will, in turn, make them kinder people.
And our kids will be kind to others because they already feel fulfilled and as if they have enough in their own lives that they can share it with those around them.
Related: How to Teach Kids to Be Grateful
Teaching Kids to Be Grateful
When I hand my kids something, anything, and their response doesn’t include “thank you,” we pause and remind them.
Teaching manners can start young and it’s an important part of teaching gratitude.
But it’s a very small part.
Saying a perfunctory “thank you” doesn’t really teach kids to be more appreciative.
But there are other things we can do to help our kids focus on gratitude.
But we also use year-round gratitude activities so we don’t only focus on being grateful in the fall.
We use these free printables to thank our essential workers.
We use these to help kids write meaningful thank you notes when they receive gifts.
And we use these gratitude appreciation notes for our friends and family.
How to Use the Appreciation Notes
1. Download and print the freebie appreciation notes (download below).
2. Cut each card on the dotted lines.
3. Kids can choose a card they want to start with.
If they’re not writers yet, they can dictate their answer with you.
Remind them to think of why they love the person they’re writing about or what they love doing with them.
4. For the blank card, they can write in someone special like an uncle or an aunt.
5. Deliver the appreciation notes or mail them to family members if you don’t live close by.
Then…the most important part: continue the conversation about being grateful for the people in our lives.
And being grateful for ice cream, even without the toppings.