With the holidays on our minds, it is a great time to encourage gratitude in our children. Gratitude doesn’t come naturally. It is learned. Teaching children to be grateful should be at the top of our parental to-do list.
Grateful children understand that other people have needs and they look outside themselves. They are more polite, better behaved, and generally more fun to be around. Children who are not taught gratitude struggle with feelings of entitlement and are usually disappointed, feeling that nothing is good enough for them.
We need to model gratitude ourselves. We must live lives of gratitude if we want our children to really learn to be grateful. That means they need to see us serve others, write thank you notes, say “please” and “thank you” and show empathy. Try to criticize less, complain less, and point out the positives, not the negative, in people and in situations.
Say “No”. It is important for us to be reasonable and say “No”. We want them to do good things because it is the right thing to do and not because they get something.
Give your children responsibility. We are always more grateful for things when we have to do them ourselves. Give your children responsibilities. They will realize the effort and energy it takes to accomplish them, and become more grateful for the people around them that do things for them.
Teach your children to be grateful for adversity. When things are hard, or uncertain, or don’t go as planned, we need to teach our children to be appreciative of what they can learn from a challenging situation. Help children see how we can take what we learn into other situations to help others and ourselves.
Role Play. Practice saying “please” and “thank you” with your children. Talk about how others feel when we show them gratitude. Remember, children aren’t thinking about everyone else. They are thinking about themselves, so we have to teach them.
Point out the simple things. Teach children to be grateful for the things around them, the seasons, the sunshine, the falling leaves, and the snow. Children will quickly understand that there is beauty all around. Jump in the leaves, make snow angels, or feel the sun on our skin.
Provide your family opportunities to give to others. Start by encouraging your children to serve other family members, and then help them find ways to actively serve others. Let them help as you serve others. They will learn by example. The goal is to give them “grateful eyes”, so they begin to see the need before they have to be told.
Teaching your children the real meaning behind the holidays will make the holiday that more meaningful for your children, as well as your family as a whole.
All of us at Travell are grateful for our community, families, and friends. We wish you a safe and happy Holiday Season