Gratitude is a value and behaviour that requires a level of education.
It is not necessarily an innate personality trait, but rather a learned practice. Teaching kids gratefulness requires helping them look at situations from the point of view of appreciation. So how do we, as parents, teach children such an abstract skill?
Here are 8 ways to teach kids about gratitude:
1. Model gratefulness. Modelling gratitude and practicing helps children (and parents) remember to be thankful for things in our life beyond material possessions. By helping them understand how great a life they have, parents are also helping their family stay grounded, thankful and healthy.
2. Talk it out. Make saying “Thank you” a part of the family routine. Say “thank you” often and you’ll hear it a lot more too. For example, “Wow, your bedroom looks great, thank you for cleaning it up.”
3. Get creative. Give your kids an opportunity to exercise their creative muscles while working on their handwriting skills by drawing pictures of tangible things, big and small that they feel gratitude for.
4. Count your blessings, literally. You might already be working on counting and numbers with your children. Why not add a positive spin and include 10 blessings each day. Whether it’s waking up to trying something new, these small but mighty blessings and the act of mindfully counting them can help train little brains to take notice of the small pleasures in life and reframe thoughts and perspectives.
5. Give often and as a family. Donate time, clothes and toys. Giving in this way not only makes you feel good, but it also naturally helps kids take stock of what they have and appreciate it.
6. Read about gratitude. Some favourites include My Heart Fills With Happiness, The Berenstain Bears Count Their Blessings, and Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
7. Write it out. Seize the opportunity after you child’s birthday and have them write and send thank-you notes to family and friends – not just for the gifts they receive, but also for the people who help make these celebrations so special.
8. Let them help with family chores. Having children involved in running the household helps them understand what it takes to run a household and also makes them feel accomplished with a natural sense of gratitude for the family unit. For younger children, consider making chores a fun game by using a tool like My Starry Chart.