While many of us teach our children to use “please” and “thank you” before they can even talk, it takes time and effort for true appreciation and gratitude to flourish in a child. As the holiday season quickly approaches, adults often stop and reflect on the things we are truly grateful for – but how do we teach our children to do the same? Here are five tips to help raise a grateful child:
Model Your Grateful Behavior
Set a good example for the kids when they do something that you appreciate. “I’m so happy to see you cleaned up all of your toys,” or “Thank you for helping your brother put his shoes on!” By using phrases like this in your day-to-day routine, you will be surprised how quickly your children pick up on it and start saying similar things.
Make “Daily Gratitude” a Part of Your Routine
Each day at dinner or bedtime, for example, take turns listing some of the things that you and your family are thankful for. When doing this, try to encourage your children to think beyond “things.”
Let Your Children Help Out
By giving your child age-appropriate responsibilities around the home, this helps them learn that tasks require some effort and gives them satisfaction knowing that they are contributing to the family. It is important for children to learn the gratification of earning what they have, and this is a great way to start instilling that.
Help Children Understand the Thoughtfulness in Gift Giving
“It’s the thought that counts” is an old, but true, saying that we all know and use. When children receive a gift, whether big or small, or whether they like it or dislike it, help them to understand and focus on the thought behind the gift. Saying things like “That was so sweet of grandma to give you a book; she knows how much you like to read,” can add some meaning to the act of giving.
Help your children understand the steps that made it possible for them to have certain basic things. For example, when you give a child a glass of milk, help them understand that it is a process and that the milk does not just appear. “The farmer has to milk the cow, then someone comes to package the milk, next someone takes it to the store, then you go to buy the milk.” When children begin to realize that there is a lot of effort and work that go in to things, they start to appreciate them more.
Below, please find a link to some of our favorite books that will help to reinforce the teaching of gratitude.