How to start the day with an attitude of gratitude

attitude of gratitude

There are all sorts of concepts and skills that we, as parents, are supposed to teach our children. But do you know the one thing we won’t ever have to teach them? How to be selfish.

That’s one of my pastor’s favorite lines. And it’s true. I never sat Turtle and Buddy down and said “okay, kids, this is what a brat acts like.” They figured that out on their own (although I could give them some serious tips).

It’s in our nature to be self-serving. But overcoming that nature can make all the difference in bringing up happy, healthy kids.

Attitude of Gratitude

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I started thinking about this after a rough week filled with whining, fighting and grumpiness. Once I got over that, I started to brainstorm how I could help my kids appreciate all they have. Because screaming “YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE!!” over and over wasn’t working so well.

I was inspired by The Happiness Project where Gretchen Rubin started a gratitude journal. But I know myself well enough to know that I wouldn’t keep up with a journal – it would get buried under the pile of preschool crafts and worksheets we get every day. And I doubt journaling would be all that motivating for 2 kids who can’t read or write. But all kids love dropping things in jars, right??

The Thankfulness Jar

This is one of the easiest activities I’ve done with the kids in a while. And the first that involved the computer. Before we started, I sat the kids down and explained what we were doing. I kept it pretty simple because complicated isn’t fun and I wanted them to be excited about this one. I told them we were going to make a thankfulness jar to keep in our kitchen. Each morning before school, everyone would think of one thing they were thankful for, write it on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. We would start our day thinking about all the great stuff in our life and, if we had a bad day, we could look at how full our jar is and be reminded.

What You Need

  • A jar
  • A label – download the label my kids designed below!
  • Tape
  • String
  • Scrap paper
  • Hole punch
  • A hook or ring for the paper – we used a Boomering Link

How we did it

Luckily, I decided to do this with the kids the same day they finished our bulk-size applesauce. I washed the container and removed the label the best I could. There are definitely cuter options out there but I like to try to use what we have as much as possible. It cuts down on waste and shopping trips. That’s a win in my book.

Once our container was clean, we went to the computer to make a label. Of course, you can draw your own label and leave the printer out of it. But this idea was on a whim and we had already spent a good part of the morning coloring and drawing. I couldn’t dip into that well again so soon. Plus, I wouldn’t be able to share their creation as easily if it was hand drawn!

Download the Turtle and Buddy original jar label right here!

Thankfulness label pic

We printed the label and taped it on our jar. This was, by far and away, the most stressful part of the project. I like things to be S T R A I G H T and in line. My kids are a lot less…errrrr…particular. My advice? Let them do it their way. You can always fix it when they’re not looking.

For the paper, we used scrap pieces I had lying around. I broke out my paper trimmer, a gadget my kids go crazy for, and had them cut the pieces into squares. We punched holes in one corner of each piece, tied a string around the top of the jar and hooked our paper to the string.

Voila! A Thankfulness Jar was born.

There’s definitely room in this activity for some flair if you’re into that sort of thing. You could paint the jar, create your own label, cut your scraps into different shapes, or do just about anything you want. I thought about cutting a slit in the lid to make our jar more “piggy bank-like” but didn’t for 2 reasons: 1) too much effort and 2) our scraps of paper vary from heavy card stock to computer paper. It’s easier just to open the jar and put the note in.

I’ll be honest, the kids have been more excited about the jar than I expected. Even Turtle, who is only 2, remembers she needs to put something in the jar. Every morning, while I make breakfast, they each take a piece of paper off the hook and tell me what they want me to write. Sometimes they repeat themselves (Turtle has said “riding in Daddy’s car” at least 10 times) but I try not to get in the way. The goal is to start the day off with a positive, grateful mindset. And if Daddy’s tiny little car does that for them, so be it (but for the record, my minivan is way better).

gratitude notes


Do you do anything special to help your kids start the day with a positive attitude? Tell me about it!