Teaching Children To Be Grateful
Tired of bickering, jealousy, and selfishness? Kids are naturally materialistic and self-serving. The good news is that gratitude CAN be taught and nurtured… and from gratitude flows joy.
Teaching children an attitude of gratitude requires helping them to look at their situations from a point of appreciation rather than from a deficit.
How do we, as parents or educators, teach children such an abstract skill? We are here to help with TWO valuable resources:
Here are some great tips to start with:
Surprise them! Don’t give them too many choices: Surprises help children see something as a gift, not an entitlement. Having too many choices breeds unhappiness– you are always wondering if you could have something better. If you asked them to choose say a special dessert, they may have so many choices that no one will be happy. If you surprise them with say a batch of special cookies, everyone will happy and excited because it wasn’t expected.
Talk about the best parts of your day: Find some time each day to talk about what you are thankful for. We do this at dinner time usually. We ask, “What was the best part of your day?”and go around in a circle. This really makes them think hard, when it’s their turn.
Teach your children their past: Most families have stories of hardship in the past. Either because circumstances were difficult or even because life was generally very different then it is now. We are blessed with so much instant gratification adn advanced technology that our children aren’t aware that most things in life were manual and strenuous. This is great o talk about and educate them about.
Say “Thank you:” This may seem like a simple and obvious one. It’s more about teaching young children to say “thank you” as part of a full sentence and for things they may take for granted, for example, “Thank you, Daddy, for making dinner.” It’s important for school-aged kids to say thank you throughout the day, especially when you help them get ready for school or drive them to activities. They should develop a habit to thank their coaches for practice and music teachers for lessons.
- Lead by example: Do we walk the walk? They watch our actions more than listen to our words. We need to be actively verbal in being thankful everyday. It may be a habit we need to develop ourselves. The outcomes are amazing even in our own lives. Come home and talk about the happy parts of your day, making a conscious choice not to complain. See Offering Boundaries & Being Role Models (Video).
Teach “‘It is better to give than to receive.” We have a tradition in our home where the birthday child always also has to pick something out for the sibling to give on their own birthday.
Monitor your children’s media: This is a big player int eh lives of our children.Directly and indirectly media is fueling our children with the desire for increased materialism especially in an age of increasingly advancing technology. This is a challenging area. We try to repeatedly informing the real value of this technology in our lives and how we use it, rather than the image we need to portray to friends about the latest gadgets. This just takes talks and repetition.
For older and young children, try keeping a gratitude journal. Gratitude journals have been shown to be an effective approach to helping children be happier: One study had 221 sixth- and seventh-graders write down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks. Three weeks later, these students had a better outlook on school and greater life satisfaction compared with kids assigned to list five hassles.
I have create an amazing new journal that is designed for younger children to stay positively active and excited about daily using this journal.
It ties up all the above points and makes it easy to see the progress of a positive attitude in your child’s life.
You can order the book here on amazon
This journal is wonderful! Perfect for teaching kids to be thankful daily.
Perfect way to help my 8 yo to focus on gratitude and positive thinking. The book is fun and appealing to her!
This was perfect for my 8 year old girl. has lots of days to fill out.
I really like the way this journal is formatted . Very helpful to bring the positive aspects of my life back into focus . Will be a great way to end my day to focus on the good things about my day not the negative .