We know that we all want our children to be grateful. I mean let's be honest....no one wants to raise a "spoiled" child. Children are egocentric and when they are blessed to live in a family who is able to provide for them they do not understand that some children are not so lucky. I've always thought this desire to raise grateful children was simply that I wanted them to grow to be compassionate adults someday. Research actually supports that people who consistently practice gratitude have stronger immune systems, healthier blood pressure, better psychological health, better sleep, increased mental strength, overall they are just happier. Who wouldn't want all of that for their children?
What does this look like in the life of a child? Frankly, young children are the least grateful beings on earth. They want EVERYTHING and they want it NOW! There are three real ways we can begin to make it a part of who they are by mixing intentional lessons, practical experiences, and ensuring strong role models in their lives.
This season is a great time to reflect as parents how we are doing in this area of their development and begin to implement new ways of practicing gratitude.I found a few ways to really begin to be intentional on making sure we are passing along the spirit of thankfulness to our children. I hope they inspire you as they did for me!
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving :)
1) Model Gratitude- They need a role model. We ourselves have to be thankful for them to see what it truly means. Start to notice simple things that you are grateful for each day. It might be a sunny day, no traffic, someone helping you out, etc. Make an effort to state in words that you are grateful/thankful for specific things.
2) Chores- Children need to be contributing. They need to understand the "work" behind so many of the things they might just assume "happen." Chores should really begin at age 2 and there are many resources out there that will provide you with what type of chores might be appropriate for what ages.
3) Allowance- Give your kids allowance and let them spend it. They have no idea what money is until they use it to buy things they want and then it is gone. Work and money are related and establishing that connection early is important.
4) Intentional Appreciations- Find time as corny as it might sound to say what you are thankful for. Maybe it's the car ride, bed time, bath time, or around the dinner table but find time in the day to recognize what good things happened that day.
5) Volunteer, Donate, to a Cause as a Family- As a family is important. Even at a young age children know when you are "giving" to others. Look for opportunities to donate together. Go shopping together if you are participating in any type of giving this holiday season!