Teenagers are often so absorbed in their own worlds that it seems they don't take the time to show gratitude for the what mom, dad or others do for them. Whether you have teenagers at home or you work with teens in some capacity, engage them in activities aimed to make them more aware of what they should be grateful for, and the importance of expressing gratitude.
Writing about Gratitude
Challenge teenagers to keep a gratitude journal for one week. They should spend five minutes each morning and night writing down what they are grateful for. It can be anything from a parent making a favorite meal to not having to go to school because of a snow day. Meet with the teens at the end of the week to talk about what they've written. Talk about how easy or hard they found it to find things to be grateful for, and whether they've become more aware of what should be appreciated. For another activity, you can have the teens write a gratitude letter to someone in their life, whether it is a best friend or a parent. Give them the option of reading the letters aloud.
Gratitude Group Activities
For a teen group activity, pass around a roll of toilet tissue and ask each person to take off how much they need, which is sure to draw giggles. Don't elaborate, even when they ask why you're doing this. When everyone has toilet paper, have the kids break their tissue up into individual squares. For each square that the students took, they must say one thing they are grateful for. The teens who thought it would be funny to grab a bunch of toilet paper might have a hard time listing enough items that they're grateful for, but challenge them to try. For another activity, if the teens all know each other, write down each person's name at the top of a sheet of paper. Spread the sheets of paper around the room. The teens must go around to each sheet of paper except their own and write down something they are grateful for about that person. Have each person read their sheet out loud and talk about how it feels to be appreciated.
Divide the teens into two teams to play Why I'm Grateful. For this game, the first team is given a word or a phrase and they have five seconds to list three reasons they are grateful for that particular item to get a point. For example, if you give them the word "rain," they must quickly list three reasons why they are grateful for rain. All of the answers must be logical and acceptable to you, the host. If they are not able to list three, the other team has the opportunity to steal the point, but they must come up with three different reasons why they are are grateful. For another game, have the teens, still divided into teams, run a gratitude relay course. You'll need a few other adults for this activity. On "go," the first person in line for each team runs to a designated cone and must complete a statement given by the adult standing there such as "I am grateful for homework because ..." If they answer satisfactorily, they run to another station and complete another gratitude statement before running back to their team and tagging the next person in line.
Have the teens create a gratitude collage, using pictures from magazines that show things that they are grateful for. The collage can include anything, especially items that teens are into, including cellphones and their favorite celebrities. Another idea is to give each teen a disposable camera and have them take pictures of what they are grateful for in their own lives. Print out the pictures and have the kids create a gratitude picture collage that they can frame and hang in their room to remind them to always be grateful for what they have.