Recent studies bear out what we’ve always known – the happiest, most fulfilled people are those with a deep sense of gratitude in their lives. Those with the deepest sense of gratitude also exhibit a seemingly unshakeable sense of joy as well. Teaching children gratitude is an important task for parents and one that can be frustrating at times.
With some simple tools, you can see gratitude grow in your little ones’ lives.
Start With You
Every time you turn around, it seems, those little eyes are watching. It can be embarrassing seeing them pick up your bad habits and exhilarating seeing them mimic your mannerisms. We all know that children learn the most from watching our own behavior. So, if you want to see your children model more grateful behavior, be the model. Take time throughout the day to remind yourself of all you have to be grateful for, and go out of your way to make a point of expressing your gratitude in many ways. You’ll soon see your child following your example.
Teachable Moments Are Precious
Showing gratitude extends well beyond remembering to say thank you when someone does something nice for you, but it’s a good place to start. Remember to demonstrate this by offering a genuine thank you whenever you have the occasion yourself. Did someone send you a birthday or Christmas card? This provides you with an opportunity to involve your child in creating a thank you card to send back. And don’t forget those less-than-pleasant times. Did you have a flat this morning? Look for the bright side – You got to spend a little more time with your child before heading to work.
Gratitude and Generosity
Generosity and gratitude are inextricably linked. The most generous people are often the most grateful. Find opportunities to help your child be generous. Getting a special treat is nice, getting an extra one to share with a friend is nicer. And while none of us likes to be showy in our charity, involving your children in your charitable gifts shows them that generosity is important for all of life. Perhaps now is the time to volunteer for a service project the whole family can participate in. Remind them, and yourself, that we give because we’re blessed, not just because we should.
Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally, but by patient modeling and reinforcement, you can see it grow in your child’s life.