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Challenge: Gratitude & Giving

How to {try to} teach gratitude to a 6 year old

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When I started to write about gratitude, I found myself in scenarios that I had to practice it. Isn’t that interesting?

I have many thoughts and ideas that I wish to write about and picking a topic like gratitude isn’t easy. Not because I can’t express what it is, but because putting it into practice moment by moment, day in and day out…that’s the tough part.

So, I know as soon as I write this, I am going to need to practice it again.

God has walked me through many life experiences. I shared some tidbits in my gratitude post and I shared my concern for being able to pass along that attitude to my children.

I know we live in a prosperous country and in a time when instant gratification is the norm. Amazon prime, smartphones and video games that give “rewards” for pushing buttons, grocery stores full of food, clean water in our home available at the push of a button…

I want our kids to enjoy the freedoms in life. I also desire for them to gain a sense of appreciation for what they have.

When I hear my children complain, I try to remember that gratitude is something I should try to teach them more about. Now, I get that wrong and don’t always handle the complaining well. I lose my patience with them and yell, “You should be grateful!” Well…that’s not really an effective parenting style and will probably lead them to feeling guilty rather than understanding what I want them to learn.

I am focusing on the character trait of gratitude for our home. It ties in easily to our holidays and activities.

I started by creating this Printable for my six year old. Gratitude is something we discuss throughout the year, but I think spending additional time building his character matters.


I took his 3 biggest complaints, things I hear from him often, and I rephrased them into gratitude statements.

I chose to use the visual of getting dressed because I think it supports the idea that an attitude is something we have to “put on.”

My natural thinking can be one of complaining. It takes more effort for me to re-frame my thoughts into being grateful. The more I practice gratitude, the more natural it becomes. The more I give thanks and praise in prayer, God reveals more areas to show me His generosity.

So, how do I break that down for my six year old?

Like this:

  1. Take the complaint – I don’t like this shirt.
  2. Replace the thought with gratitude statement. –I am grateful I have clothes to wear.
  3. Place those thoughts on a shirt for a boy to “get dressed with.” So, my son can clearly see the difference between the two thoughts and select the thought that has a grateful attitude

Now, I know the application piece is not easy. It’s not easy for me. I have to continually practice and revisit this concept, but I think bringing awareness to gratitude matters. I think it matters for me to try to model it, try to teach it, and try to apply it.

If we fail -or, I should say, when we fail- we can revisit the concept in other ways.

We plan to visit the attitude of gratitude further and deeper in experiences, conversations, prayers, and scripture.

I don’t know if these efforts are going to work for my kids. I don’t want to appear to have all of the answers. My purpose in sharing these ideas are because I think they are worth trying.

I want to help my kids navigate this world. I am hopeful to follow God’s guidance and learning from people who are wiser than me and who have gone down these roads ahead of me. I am hopeful that some of these “teachings” may stick.

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