I find that the second the holiday decorations hit the shelves (around August these days!) my kids can start with streams of I want! As a parent, it is frustrating to feel that your kids don’t understand or appreciate the amazing things already in their life. In particular, the things that can’t be purchased such as good health and family.
Luckily there is gratitude. This feeling can be shown through kindness, good manners, thankfulness, and giving. It is a habit that can be practiced and as parents, we can start to lay the base really young (we started when they were toddlers). Don’t stress however I have found that it’s never too late to begin teaching gratitude, so I have put together my favorite ways.
Model the Behavior.
Kids take behavior cues from our parents, so it’s important to be mindful of how you express gratitude. Start by consistently modeling basic manners, respect, and kindness toward family members. Make an effort to talk about what you are grateful for — a great meal, a healthy family, a partner taking care of household duties. Kids will pick up on your gratitude, and with time, they’ll follow your lead.
Acknowledge & Reinforce
Make sure you reinforce good behaviors. Do you ever wonder why children insist on repeating bad behaviors? I have found that even if it's negative, sometimes is a reward for young kids. So, try and always spotlight the positive behavior. You can recognize and praise your children if you see then sharing a snack, being kind, helping a friend or sibling or treating belongings with respect.
Giving back to your community can help breed feelings of thankfulness and gratitude as well as learning to be selfless & giving. It can also give your children a better sense of perception on your way of living compared to others. There are plenty of things to do that are suitable for kids of all ages. You can help with food drives, clothing drives or fabric donations. They can go through their belongings and donate. It can also give them a sense of what they do and don’t need as well as help reduce the waste of food and materials.
Make a Gratitude Routine.
Try creating some weekly or daily routines. Try asking “What are you thankful for today?” at dinnertime or bedtime. Creating this routine will have your kids looking out for things there are grateful for therefore reinforcing positive parts of their lives.
We try to highlight that gratitude should be practiced year-round. A lot of people get caught up thinking that around Thanksgiving and Christmas is the only time to think about this. Try to create a year-long routine. The more you stick to the routine, you will find that expressing gratitude and feelings will become a part of your everyday life.
Write Thank You Notes.
Teach the kids about thank you notes. It can be important that kids understand that they are not entitled to gift but kind and thoughtful for other people to think of them. This kind of thoughtfulness should be acknowledged.
I have found that this is an ongoing process but my heart leaps when I see good habits forming. Do you have any more ideas about teaching gratitude in your family?