Teaching Children to Express Gratitude in their Lives
As a child, my father used to say; “Never waste food, there are people out there who go hungry without meals, you should be grateful for what you have.” I never really understood his words, until I saw an incapacitated beggar on the street, and asked my mom about him. After giving him the bottle of water we had, my mom said; “you should help those in need and be happy with what you have. She taught me more about being thankful for the things around me. From then on, I have been following my mom’s footsteps on being grateful. It doesn’t matter what sort of situation I am in, if I am able to make a difference, even just a little help, goes a long way.
Gratitude is not about just being grateful, it’s an emotion that brings positive growth in a human being and harnesses a series of progressive reactions and actions like, sharing, caring, loving and helping which all points to the feeling of happiness in oneself and others. Before we teach our kids the importance of gratitude, we need to understand that gratitude is not something learnt overnight, it requires practice in our day to day lives.
Be mindful. Be grateful. Be positive. Be true. Be kind.
― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
It’s not too late to exercise gratitude in our lives, you can start with your kids. Here 10 ways on how to teach the importance of gratitude to children:
- Begin and end the day by saying “Thank You.”
Make it a part of your family’s daily routine to get up and thank the Creator for such a beautiful day, a small prayer of appreciation, during meals and ending your day being thankful by listing the positive events that happened throughout the day. These are some of the ways to teach the feeling of being grateful to kids.
2. Be your child’s role model and show them how it’s done.
As parents, show appreciation to each other, by saying, “thank you” or “that’s amazing.” Remember, your kids are keeping a watch on you, so how you treat each other are also lessons learnt for your little one.
3. Take the initiative to involve yourself and your child in some form of social service.
Donating clothes, stationaries, etc. to orphanages and also bringing your child to experience the world on the other side inculcates the value of appreciation for things around them. It doesn’t matter how you do it, you can also join any sort of “Save Water initiative or the Cleanliness campaign, etc. But it is significant to involve in some type of social work.
4. Help kids understand the value of hard work
By saying statements like, “you should behave like a good child, because your parents are working very hard for you.” In short, you are just making your children feel like they are a burden and they tend to do what is expected to do from them, and they really don’t get what is the hard work you are talking about. When it comes to parenting, these statements are the off beam approach to take and can have a negative influence on your child. Like I said, always put yourself in their shoes and think, “what would you have done, if I heard this as a child?” You will find your answers.
So, how do you go about it? If you find your child is interested in something, help him/her hone those skills to reach their goals, show them that it requires their efforts to attain what they want. The more children put efforts to achieve their goals, the more gratitude they sense for themselves and for their prize.
5. Help kids understand the concept of “Helping”.
You can start by dividing the household chores with your kids or when out grocery shopping, any light weight bags you think can be carried by your child, ask him/ her for help, to carry those bags for you. You can also ask your child to lend a helping hand in the kitchen, these are some ways, to teach children the concept of “helping.” Sooner or later, your child will take the actions necessary to offer help to you or others in need.
6. Don’t give into your children’s demands
Just because he/she asked for it and throws tantrums for it. As a parent, you don’t give into your children’s demands. Reason being, watch how your child cares for things you have given him till date, if he has been throwing his toys around, and damaging things, you give him , this shows that he really doesn’t care about his belongings, he knows you will get it for him. To correct this, first is to start by not giving into your child’s wishes.
7. Kindness is a gift everyone can afford to give
A simple act of kindness can do wonders in teaching children the importance of being thankful. Example; when you help someone in need, the quick response from the person is a smile and a “Thank you.” So teaching your child, the simple act of kindness, is a way of teaching him/ her the feeling of thankfulness and how to respond to kindness.
8. Show appreciation when your child gets their work done
As a parent, other than teaching your kids to say “thank you,” sometimes when you find your child has gone out of his/ her way to do something for you, show how grateful you are for their efforts and reply with a “thank you.”
9. Patience is key
To develop the above mentioned qualities in children, it requires time and efforts, as parents we need to be patient with kids. So be tolerant, be patient and as your child grows he/she will surely grow up to be a worthy human being.
10. Love, Love and love!
Be a family, which loves one another and solves problems with the magic of love. When it comes to children, gratitude is also a kind of love, showing gratitude with love is what brings the smile on your little one and to you.