How do you teach gratefulness to your kids when they have so much? It may be easier than you think.
What Does It Mean to Be Grateful?
By definition, gratitude is the act of being thankful. When you are grateful for something you are thankful and ready to show appreciation. Teaching kids how to be grateful is about more than having them say thank you and display good manners, it is about the feeling that receiving evokes.
How many times have you heard someone say a slightly sarcastic or less than heartfelt thank you? It is easy to tell when there is little to no gratitude and appreciation behind the words.
As parents, we want our children to truly be grateful for the things, opportunities, and people in their lives. We want all of their “thank you’s” to come from a place of appreciation and gratitude and not simply be words they say out of obligation or habit.
So, how do we teach gratefulness when kids have so much already? Here are some simple places to start.
Ways to Teach Gratefulness to Your Kids
- Model the Behavior You Want to See
Children are wonderful observers and it does not take long for them to notice patterns of behavior – especially when those patterns come from their parents or adult role models. If you want your children to be grateful, model that behavior for them.
That means expressing your gratitude and appreciation with feeling behind the words and, possibly explaining why you are so grateful. Sometimes understanding how the behavior has created gratitude in someone else makes it easier for a person to identify the things that have also helped to improve or make their life easier.
- Start a Conversation
Instead of discussing the weather or school at dinner tonight, ask each family member what they are grateful for today. Did someone do something to help them? Was the bus driver extra careful on slippery roads and that made them grateful for having such a good driver? Is it their favorite meal and they are grateful for it being cooked?
Talk about gratitude and how simple acts of kindness, courage, and assistance can make a world of difference in your lives.
- Start a Gratitude Journal
One of the common misconceptions about journaling is that you have to write a lot and that it has to be in a fancy journal. In fact, that could not be farther from the truth.
The only thing you need to start a gratitude journal is a pen or pencil and some paper. It can be loose-leaf paper or a simple notebook that holds your daily notes of gratitude. Those daily notes can range anywhere from a sentence to pages long. Or check out my other post on The Best Gratitude Journals for Kids
Make it a goal to start jotting down the things you are thankful for – and having your children do the same – so that you can all see how truly blessed you are. Journaling helps cultivate that attitude of gratitude.
- Help Others by Volunteering
Just like the misconceptions about journaling, there is a misconception that volunteering has to take up a lot of time. That is simply not the case. Volunteering can be one day a week, one day a month, or even a couple of times a year. Very few places will turn down the help when your schedule is free to provide it!
Even an hour a week sorting cans at the food pantry or collecting blankets for shelter animals can help teach children to be grateful and appreciative of what they already have. They also get to see firsthand the impact that their kindness creates when others express gratitude for their assistance. Volunteering is gratitude come full circle.
Donating clothes that have been outgrown and toys that are no longer played with can also teach children about gratitude. They have the opportunity to think about the item they are donating, how it has served a purpose in their life, and what it means to let it go.
They also get to see the result of their donation both in the space that it clears up in their bedrooms or toy boxes and in the way that it helps others.
The Importance of Teaching Kids Gratitude
When children learn to be truly grateful, they are able to see the bigger picture and how they fit into the world. It gives them an opportunity to look outside of themselves and see how people are connected in innumerable ways. An attitude of gratitude also makes them kinder, more generous, and more observant people. In this crazy world, learning how to show kindness and be appreciative can go a very long way.
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