Everyone wants their children to be grateful for what they have but it can be a difficult concept to teach. Here are a few pointers on how to help children appreciate all the good that they have:
Set an example: Children learn best by example so verbalize your own gratitude. Tell your child that you appreciate him or her. Let your child hear you thank your spouse for a completed chore. Mention a kind act that you witnessed and how nice it made you feel. Cultivate gratitude yourself and your child will follow.
Have a daily gratitude time: If your family always has dinner together, that could be the perfect time. For others the child’s bedtime, the drive to school or bath time might be a better choice. The idea is simple, ask each child to think of the people, pets, and things that they are grateful for and list a few out loud. After a minute or so, get them to say “I am grateful for all the good things in my life, thank you.”
Correct your child when they are being ungrateful: It is important to point out a bad attitude when it is appropriate. If a friend does a favor for your son and he does not respond with a heartfelt “thank you,” have a little discussion with him and let him know why that’s not proper behavior. Don’t overdo it and don’t shame the child, simply use the incident as a learning experience.
Make Gratitude a Game: If you are on a long car ride or waiting for a doctor’s appointment, play the ABC gratitude game. Start with “A” and say what you are grateful for that begins with “A.” Your child gives an example using the letter “B” and then back to you for “C” and so on through the alphabet. Get creative and silly and before you know it you will have found 26 things to be grateful for.
Serve Others: The best way to foster a feeling of gratitude is to show children how much they do have. Stocking the shelves at a food pantry may help them see their own plentiful kitchen in a different light. Plus, they will have a legitimate good feeling about helping those who have less.Happiness stems directly from gratitude and it doesn’t matter how little or how much you have. By teaching children to focus on the positive we help them grow up to be positive, compassionate, resilient adults. Plus, it feels really, really good.