This is the time of year when we are talking about gratitude. Many take the gratitude challenge on their social media by sharing daily for what they are grateful. Others, simply journal and some do nothing. We know from various research studies that instilling gratitude within ourselves and our children can increases happiness, grant perspective, improve relationships and counteract the “I WANT IT”.
Most of us can agree that teaching our children to say “thank you” is important, but gratitude goes beyond manners. Gratitude is a way of life, with deeper meaning and understanding.
We all want our children to be happy and search for the silver lining in all circumstances. We want healthy relationships and to have a deep appreciation of what we have versus thinking we NEED everything we see on television or in magazines. I’m sure we can agree that none of us set out to raise “entitled” children.
These three tips will help you to instill a TRUE attitude of gratitude in your children:
1. Share YOUR gratitude and share it often
Taking time each day to count your blessings is not just important for us as parents, but also our children. Most of our five and six year old kids don’t have social media to create a status update to tell us for what they are grateful. (at least I hope they don’t!) Take time each day to share something for which you are thankful. Maybe this is at dinner or at bedtime prayers, but share! If you have tweens or teens, they may even enjoy keeping a written journal of their gratitude before bed. During times of difficulty, negativity or sad times, taking a few extra minutes each day to focus on our blessings results in a pretty substantial attitude shift.
2. Avoid too much giving
As parents, we always want what is best for our children, but I’m not suggesting we refuse buying our children the essentials of life. Instead, resist the temptation to buy your kids whatever they want, whenever they want it. Doing so makes it hard for children to develop an appreciation and respect for their possessions. They end up with too much stuff and lacking an appreciation for their toys or devices and are constantly setting their sights on the next shiny new object. There is nothing wrong with asking children to help contribute to larger purchases, either! Putting a little “skin in the game” helps to teach gratitude and appreciation.
3. Find the silver lining
Have you ever looked at a situation and felt defeated? Well our children are no different! When faced with challenges or negativity, it is just as helpful to our children as it is to us! Helping your children to look for the bright side will teach them the attitude of gratitude. This is more about perspective than circumstance.
Remember that car driving slowly on your way to work when you’re already late? ….to then drive by the police shooting radar, which would have SURELY resulted in a speeding ticket? SILVER LINING! It can be very easy to go to a place of pity. By helping your children to find THEIR silver lining in time of distress we are giving them coping skills to feel happier and more successful.
Comment below to share how you instill a sense of gratitude with your children! I’d love to hear from those with children already grown, too! What has worked for you?