We live in a world where children constantly say “I want it”, “I need it”, “and “I have to have it”. And if it’s affordable most parents will give their children what they want. Some parents will give only what they believe their children should have, while others cave in and give them everything because all of the other kids have these things.
It’s all fine and well to give our children toys and digital devices, but when we shower them with what they want, are they grateful and do they understand the meaning of gratitude?
Research has shown that gratitude plays a major role in an adult’s well-being and success, but there is little research addressing its development and enhancement in children’s lives.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, this is the perfect time to educate your children about gratitude and instill it in them for life.
A recent Wall Street Journal article about raising kids with gratitude acknowledged a growing interest in the area of gratitude in the younger generation. The piece cited studies showing that kids who count their blessings reap concrete benefits, including greater life satisfaction and a better attitude about school.
Be a role model and teach gratitude
Kids emulate their parents. By showing gratitude to others our children can learn to be grateful. The more you say Than You to others, you kids will learn from you.
Teach them to write Thank You notes
Encourage children and teens to write thank you notes when they receive a gift, if someone has done something nice for them and even to thank their teachers at the end of the year.
Have kids start Gratitude journal
Each night before they go to bed have them write in a notebook three things they are grateful for that happens each day.
Rather than give kids every single thing they want, use moderation. Have them do small jobs which they can be paid for or use their allowance to buy some of the things they want so they can understand the value of money and be grateful for what they have.
Encourage them to give back
Teach them that “it is better to give than to receive”. By helping someone, volunteering, or making a donation to a charity from their allowance, kids learn how good it feels to do for others.
Insist on politeness and respect
In order not to have a kid who feels entitled, it is imperative to teach our children to treat others with dignity and respect. They will be more likely to appreciate the ways in which others contribute to and improve their lives. And, they’ll be less likely to take kindness for granted. We must be the role models for our kids to learn the importance of treating everyone with respect.
Use teachable moments
Show kids how to be grateful in real-life situations. Every time they say thank you, acknowledge that was the right thing to do and how proud you are of them.
Seeing the good in others
Teach kids and teens to see the good in others regardless of whether they like them or not (this is also a good way to educate about bullying prevention)
Challenge your kids
Challenge of all ages to be grateful for one person in their life and to tell that person! It can start a chain reaction of gratitude!
Start a Thanksgiving Tradition
If you don’t already, have everyone at your Thanksgiving dinner share what they’re grateful for and include your kids. This will be something they will remember throughout their lives.
As parents, despite wanting to give our kids everything, one of the greatest gifts we can give is to teach them gratitude. The earlier we start teaching them, the most effective we will be in raising grateful children.
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Ross Ellis is also the Examiner for:
National Parenting Examiner
NY Real Estate