Clubhouse Guest Post: A Simple Way to Teach Kids About Being Grateful

I am excited today to give a big Clubhouse welcome to Chelsea, who has decided to join us in our Summer of Gratitude. Her blog, Moments a Day, is truly inspirational. Some of my favorite posts she has written are "Teach Your Kids How to be Resourceful" and "Helping Children Recognize and Practice Kindness in Speech"
Today she shares with us a way she has taught her kids about being grateful. Thank you Chelsea, we are grateful you're here :)

It doesn’t take kids long to learn that birthdays are a time to get lots of new stuff.  Even though in our family we ask friends to bring something besides presents (one year we had a Clown Doctor fundraiser; another we collected toothbrushes for a preschool in another country) there are still presents from mom and dad, siblings, grandparents, and aunties and uncles.  It all builds up pretty fast.

This year, even though my four-year-old’s birthday is still 3 months away, he has been asking now for several weeks for a particular Transformer for his birthday.  While I don’t mind discussing what he may like for his birthday (I figure we will only get him a few gifts, so he may as well like them!) I also do not want to encourage a sense of entitlement to get whatever he wants or to set him up for disappointment if he does not receive what he had his heart set on.

This little activity helped us discuss the deeper purpose of gift-giving, and let us practice what it means to practice gratitude when you get something you did not necessarily want.

I asked the boys to find something they wanted to give each other (in secret), and told them that afterwards we would use some scrap paper and wrap the "gifts" up.  They happily ran around trying to find things (my two-year-old usually came back with things that were way too big to fit into the paper) and I helped them fold the paper around the objects before they gave them to each other.  They also asked me to give them presents (and gave presents to me), so we all took turns sharing the wrapping paper and presenting gifts to each other.  It was amazing how much fun they had with this!
This simple activity helped us:
  • Practice thinking about other people while we choose gifts
  • Practice saying “thank you”
  • Practice looking for the good qualities of the gift (for example, “Wow that is a really bright highlighter!”)
  • Discuss that someone gives a gift to show love to the other person, not necessarily because the other person wants the thing they are giving
  • Discuss the possibility of not getting what you "want"
  • Remember the purpose of gifts, that they are a sign of love
The boys also colored their paper with crayons a bit between gift-giving episodes… I can imagine some children might enjoy making homemade wrapping paper for this activity.  (My boys are only 2 and 4 years old so we may try that a bit later.)
In all, we had a good time thinking about the purpose of gifts and remembering to be thankful for whatever we receive.

How do you handle gift-giving in your house?  Are your children generally grateful for gifts they receive?

Chelsea is mom of two boys under 5 who believes in the power of using small moments throughout the day to connect and build character.  She blogs about activities, ideas, and resources towards these purposes at

You can also find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

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