With Thanksgiving right around the corner here in the U.S., a lot of people begin to reflect on the things that they are grateful for in their lives. But gratitude is something that should be practiced every day and is an important skill that should be taught to our children. It is more than just reminding them to say "thank-you" for receiving something. It is helping them to foster a mindset of genuine appreciation for something, the thought behind why they may have received it, how it makes them feel, and their reaction to it.
One of the best ways to teach our children sincere gratitude is to practice it in our own lives and be examples of what it looks like to be grateful. Here are some simple things we can do to demonstrate thankfulness daily.
1. Say thank you to our children. This may be a given, but letting our children know that we appreciate the things that they do and say, even when expected, reinforces positive behavior and instills in them that actions are worthy of appreciation.
2. Be of service to others. Whether it be donating physical items or your time, being charitable teaches our children to appreciate what they have. When they see gratitude expressed by the recipients of kind deeds, they also begin to understand that giving of yourself is another way of expressing gratitude for what you have.
3. Share moments of gratitude daily. Make it a habit to share with your children things you are thankful for and ask them to share with you as well. When my children were growing up, part of our bedtime routine was to share with each other something that we were thankful for that day. This helps them to learn that even when it may have been a horrible day, there is always something to be grateful for.
4. Compliment our children on admirable traits they demonstrate. By letting them know you recognize something special about them, they in turn will learn to recognize and appreciate unique qualities in others.
5. Say "No" to impulsiveness. If we do not always get what we want when we want it, we are more than likely going to appreciate something more when we do get it. It's ok to say "no" and teach our children that being patient and working for something makes us all the more thankful when our goal is reached.
By implementing a few simple things into our days, raising children to be grateful becomes a natural way of life with a multitude of benefits that will last them a lifetime.