How to put a little gratitude in their attitude!
Gratitude is the gateway to humility. It is appreciating everything you have and realizing how lucky you are. There are a lot of spoiled children out there that do not appreciate what they have. This isn’t their fault. It is our responsibility as parents to instill gratitude in our children. If we don’t do this, we risk raising children who are selfish and expect the world to hand them everything.
Gratitude isn’t only about being thankful for gifts, it is an appreciation for the blessings in our lives. When we are feeling sorry for ourselves, gratitude is that voice that reminds us to be thankful. Thankful for our health, our family, and the roof over our heads.
Studies have shown that people who practice gratitude are less likely to experience depression and dissatisfaction in life. Gratitude also fosters optimism and resilience, which are tools to overcome disappointments in our personal and professional lives.
I have a ten-year-old step-daughter named Charlotte and a two-year-old daughter named Willow. They are blessed with lots of love and also lots of material items (they have 6 sets of grandparents!).
Charlotte is always excited and grateful to receive any gifts that she has. She is a very happy child. I find Charlotte has a lust for life that is contagious. I believe she understands how lucky she is and wants to help people.
We can work with a child of any age to ensure they know how to appreciate whatever they are given in their lives. The lesson of gratitude can start with gifts. They are tangible and something children can hold in their hands. Once they have mastered being thankful for presents and not expecting them, the teaching of gratitude for the intangible will follow.
Teach them the magic words
Since willow was able to babble we started teaching her “please and thank you”. She is still working on please but is starting to say thank you all the time. We taught her by leading by example. When she has something she shouldn’t have we ask: “May I please have that?”. When she gives us the item, we thank her. We also remind her to say please and thank you when interacting with others.
Educate your children about life struggles
Whenever Charlotte and I are in the downtown core of our small city, I educate her on homelessness. Children are curious about why a person would stand on the street and ask for money. If you encounter this, use it as a teachable moment. Explain to the child that not everyone has what they have. Let them know that there are rich people, poor people, and everyone in-between. This will make them more understanding when a classmate doesn’t have the newest clothes or toys. It fosters empathy.
Explain the value of hard work
Children have no idea where money comes from until we explain it to them. One time, Charlotte told us that she gets money from a machine. My husband explained to her that we have to work hard to receive that money from the ATM. It’s important to let your children know the value of hard work, and that hard work is how you create your lifestyle.
Lead by example
Children look to us for guidance. They love to copy what we do, good or bad. Say thank you. It’s as simple as that! Always thank the person who packs your groceries, your cashier, and anyone else that provides a service to you. Write thank you notes and get your child to help. You are your child’s greatest teacher!
Practice gratitude through spirituality
I know this one isn’t for everyone and that is fine. However, if you attend church, this can also teach a sense of gratitude. Thanking the higher power for what you have cultivates gratitude in a community setting. For many people, thanking the higher power was their first lesson in gratitude.
What are you thankful for?
Before bed or at dinner time, ask your child what they are thankful for today. This practice isn’t just for Thanksgiving! We can find a new thing to be grateful for every day. This allows for self-reflection and will open up a dialogue with your child. It’s an alternative question to “How was your day at school?”
The benefits of charity work
During the holiday season, my cousin and her little girl collect items for “Samaritan’s purse”. This is a charity that sends shoeboxes full of hygiene items and toys to children in war-torn countries. My cousin’s little girl is one of the most generous and thankful children I have ever met. I believe their charity work has instilled gratitude and philanthropy in her for life.
Children are born wanting to learn and be praised. If we want to instill a thankful attitude in our children, we must be practicing gratitude daily. As much as we struggle in this life, we also triumph. We should celebrate the moments when something good happens. If we do this, our children will follow suit.
The law of attraction states that we attract what we give out in life. If we are grateful for all that we have, we will continue to receive abundance in our lives.
Gratitude isn’t about what we can feel in our hands, it’s what we feel in our hearts.
Be thankful today, and always.