How To Cultivate Gratitude In Kids

We're a couple of weeks past Thanksgiving, a holiday that inspires many a conversation about gratitude. And in this consumer-focused month of December, I find that it's even more important to level up on teaching kids about gratitude. While it may seem like a heavy task, the good news, is that it's not; there are actually some really beautifully simple ways to cultivate gratitude in kids and as part of an editorial partnership with the Tufts Medical Center Floating Hospital for Children I'm delighted to welcome Floating Hospital for Children licensed clinical social workers Rachel Blumberg and Victoria Newcomb, who share their top tips for what parents can do to nurture gratitude in their families.

1. Model the behavior you wish to cultivate

Make a point to express your own gratitude throughout your daily activities. Thank specifically and let your child know exactly why you are grateful. For example, it can be as simple as saying, “Thank you for showing such patience when you played with your sibling today, you really made him or her smile.” 

2. Help someone else

There are lots of small opportunities to encourage your kids to lend a hand on a day to day basis. Help someone in your family or neighborhood, or assist through a more formal volunteer program in the community.

3. Teach kids to express their thanks

Make expression of thanks a part of your family routine. Express gratitude by asking each family member to take a turn to share what they are grateful for each day at dinner or bedtime. Send thank you cards to express appreciation for gifts, favors, and “just because.”

4. Reinforce simple words

Model and reinforce the simple words “please” and “thank you.” Although the words can be automatic and aren’t always associated with a feeling of gratitude, they remind us of how often throughout our day we are giving and receiving.

5. Learn the back story

Help children learn about how their favorite things came to be so that they can understand and express gratitude for the work that goes into everyday items and activities. For example, “You love strawberries. For us to enjoy strawberries, first a seed has to go into the ground—thank you, seed!—then the sun has to shine and the rain has to fall so that the seed can grow into a plant—thank you, sun and rain!” and so on.

For older children, learn or have them teach you about the process to make something they love, and model how to notice and show gratitude for each step you learn about.

About Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center

Floating Hospital for Children is the full-service children’s hospital of Tufts Medical Center, located in downtown Boston, with specialty centers around Eastern Massachusetts. We provide pediatric inpatient and outpatient services in every medical and surgical specialty—from general pediatric services to the care of the most complex cancers, heart diseases and traumas. At Floating Hospital for Children, our patients are our inspiration, and they prove to us every day that you don’t have to be big to be strong. For more information on keeping your kids healthy and strong, visit

Disclosure: This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Tufts Medical Center.

5 ways to cultivate gratitude in kids

5 ways to cultivate gratitude in kids