How Do You Cultivate Gratitude in your Family?

Family playing in the leaves illus by Jennifer MillerThis month, in preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday, I am focusing on gratitude and how a family can instill gratitude in their daily lives. Help me with my research and contribute to our community!


  1. In what ways do you promote a sense of gratefulness in your family?
  2. Do you have any rituals that you do daily, weekly or seasonally?
  3. How do you prepare children for receiving gifts graciously?
  4. How do you combat a sense of entitlement yourself, with your children or with any family members?
  5. When do you feel gratitude and how do you express it?


I hope you’ll write in and share your ideas, thoughts, photos if you have some that are relevant, stories, traditions, questions and challenges on the this important topic! I’ll take what you are willing to give and share with our community. You can post in the comment section or write to me directly at Most importantly, I am incredibly grateful to you for engaging in this critical dialogue about ourselves and our children! 

2 Comments on “How Do You Cultivate Gratitude in your Family?”

  1. We are working on gratitude at our house. We have a “Words of Love” jar where we express appreciation of our family members by writing one note (minimum) for each family member per week. We share our words of love at our weekly Family Meeting. We say Grace before dinner as a way to appreciate what we have – “Lord, thank you for the food before us, the family beside us and the love between us.” Beyond our family, we have committed to helping our community by providing a dish for the CRC (Clintonville Resource Center) dinner once a month. For November, I am going to encourage the kids to continue our “Words of Love” for each family member but to also include things they are thankful for beyond our family. We do discuss how to receive gifts graciously each year and I feel that our children have mastered this skill. However, they need to learn how to become thoughtful gift givers. I would like to see them spend more time thinking about what they want to give -vs- what they want to receive. We need to spend more time teaching them how to save, shop and pick out a thoughtful gift. Too often we have bought a gift for them to give without involving them in the process. Our elementary school has a Holiday Shop each year which has allowed our children to practice picking out a special gift for each member of our family. :o) I am proud to say that our kids do not expect to receive everything on their Christmas list. Another wonderful tradition is picking an ornament from the “Giving Tree” at our elementary school and buying a gift for a family in need at the holidays. Another way, we are teaching our children to GIVE is through their allowances. They each have a SPEND, SAVE and GIVE jar. My 8th grader and I have donated $25 each to make “loans that change lives” through Kiva. Kiva allows my 8th grader to lend as little as $25 and make a difference in life of someone far away, with far different economic circumstances than us. Very powerful lesson! When the loans are repaid, we get to choose another person to help. My daughter gets very excited about filling her UNICEF box each year at Halloween and making donations to Cat Welfare. Personally, I say “thank you” a lot and am keeping an “Attitude of Gratitude” journal, but aspire to be better about sending thank you notes and want to teach my children thee art of a well-written thank you letter. Their Great Grandma is the master of the well-written thank you note. I also try to express my appreciation of others by doing nice things for them. Love is a verb!

    • Wow! Wow! Wow! You have provided so many rich ideas here! It’s really incredible the many ways you cultivate gratitude in your family! I love the “Words of Love” jar. I would imagine that could really promote sibling kindness as well as whole family connectedness. That’s just awesome. I could see my son really having fun with that. I think we’ll give it a try! I do think involving kids in the thought process of giving is so important. We are super busy so it’s easy to just pick up something while we are at the store versus helping our kids think in advance about what Grandma would love from them. The “Spend, Save and Give jars” are a terrific idea too. We do similarly and I think I am going to add “Save for Now,” “Save for Later.” since college is getting so expensive so one we’ll designate as a college fund. The KIVA giving is of particular interest because it takes so few dollars to make such a big impact and your 8th grader can really understand how he is contributing. That’s truly a powerful lesson as you write! In my research, I found several studies that say that gratitude journaling as you are doing can make a big difference in people’s daily lives. The studies emphasize being specific (still can be short) and also novel – so that you are not writing about the same thing but finding the uniqueness in each day. Thank you notes can become a chore with kids (read: big sigh!) but I think you can make it enjoyable by putting out stickers to decorate and a snack to munch on so that it feels like a fun activity you are doing together versus a chore to accomplish. “Love is a verb!” is not only a favorite song of mine (thank you, John Mayer! :), but also a great motto. Thank you for these specific examples of the many ways you promote gratitude in family life. I hope you won’t mind if I quote you on the blog and on the NBC toolkit! 🙂 I am grateful to you, Julie! Reader, commenter, community builder, neighbor and friend! 🙂

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