Teach your kids to give thanks for what they have—then help them give it away.

Studies have shown that cleaning makes you happier. One reason is that cleaning helps you feel like you’re getting a fresh start, says Kathleen Berchelmann, MD, a Washington University pediatrician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. For kids, it can also help teach gratitude.

“Cleaning helps kids see how much they have that they don’t need,” Dr. Berchelmann says. “Have them decide what to keep and what they can donate. Then they feel like they’re giving back to the community.”

Be sure to schedule a cleaning day and tell your kids not to schedule any activities or play dates. On cleaning day, give each child a bag and have her fill it with items to donate. Clothes, toys and technology are all welcomed at local donation centers. At the end of the day, reward them for their efforts, for example, with a family dinner at a favorite restaurant, Dr. Berchelmann suggests.

“While the kids are tidying their rooms, remind them that material things don’t buy happiness, gratitude does,” Dr. Berchelmann says. “Gratitude helps kids avoid feeling a sense of entitlement, and they start to take pride in the things that they keep.”

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