Fostering an attitude of gratitude in your child is a challenge these days with all the material goods and privileges around them. Gratitude is feeling and showing honest appreciation for material or immaterial gifts. Teaching a grateful attitude is an important life lesson that is best started early in life. Not only does gratitude make family life easier, but it also helps your child be a person that others can feel joyous about.
Why is Gratitude so Important?
Showing gratitude is more than expression of politeness and good manners. Recent studies on gratitude show its positive effects on personalities, including increased optimism, self-esteem, hope and empathy. Even at a spiritual level, gratitude attracts positivity. The mindset of being grateful needs to be nurtured, which is why you can demonstrate this early on and teach it to your children even as toddlers.
Express Gratitude Yourself
Children learn from their parents by listening to words and observing actions. By showing your gratitude at every opportunity, you can be a great example to your kids. Say the word “grateful” in a variety of situations and express it with your behavior. You can even show how grateful you are for having your children in your life, by telling them how much you love them, appreciate them and how much they mean to you. Not only does this boost your child’s self-esteem, but it also shows them that the concept of gratitude isn’t only for material goods or favors. Spending quality time with your kids and being present in the moment are also great ways to appreciate your kids.
Teach them the Value of Money
While gratitude should not revolve around money and goods, you should make your children aware that it takes effort and time to earn money, which is why it deserves value. Toys, gadgets, clothes and cars can all become the objects of your child’s desire, especially if they are exposed to media and advertisements for these items. By giving into a child’s demands for the newest, biggest and shiniest item, they will start to feel entitled to these things and won’t care about what it took for you to buy them. Giving your kids an allowance and having them hand over the cash to buy something helps them think twice about making a purchase. It also develops a strong sense of self-control and appreciation for what they have. Your child may also gain an understanding of the fact that money is not unlimited. For your teenager, encouragement to get a part-time job can be a great prompt for being grateful for the opportunity to perform work and earn a paycheck in return.
The Power of Giving Back
While many of the lessons around gratitude come from being at the receiving end, giving back is also an enlightening and rewarding experience for kids. You can encourage your children to help others and be generous, which in turn helps to develop strong friendships. Model behavior that shows appreciation and respect for the time and efforts of others. This demonstrates that relationships are more valuable than “stuff.” Young children can help family members or pets, while older kids can volunteer outside the home. These activities teach children the importance of kindness and respect to others within their community.
Make Gratitude Fun
You can make gratitude a fun and empowering tool for your children. Try sharing the things you’re grateful for and announcing them at family times such as during conversations at the dinner table. Many families make a gratitude tree or jar during the holiday season as a way to overcome the media’s pressure to buy more things. You can have fun writing and making thank you notes by putting one in your child’s lunch box or making one together when your child receives a gift. Get creative and make a special gratitude box or journal where you can archive little notes filled with what each member of the family is thankful for at the moment. Read them aloud during a special occasion or create a scrapbook of the notes or pictures of what each person is thankful for. Instead of your children getting you a gift for mother’s day or your birthday, ask for a list of reasons why they are grateful for you. You could include one for them in a card or letter for their own birthdays. Continue nurturing the feeling of gratefulness and the secret power of gratitude will multiply it back in your direction.