Every parent wants their child to be happy, healthy, and successful. While there are no proven ways to ensure all these, studies show that grateful children tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful. This means that instilling gratitude in your children from a young age is going to make them happy in the present and hopeful for the future. The only way to teach gratitude to your kids is by practicing it. This holds true for any other virtue but holds more importance in the case of teaching gratitude.
But, how do you practice gratitude?
We have all been in a situation where we give a child something and one of their parents immediately tells the child to say ‘Thank you’. This might seem forceful, but this is the first step to teaching your young ones to be thankful for something they have received. This will help your child form a habit and once they learn to recognize any acts of kindness, may it be tangible or intangible, they will start to thank people on their own.
Do not forget to appreciate them when they show gratitude without you prompting them.
2. Begin with yourself
As adults, we often miss out on expressing gratitude believing that understanding is good enough to express thankfulness. And what we miss as parents is what kids will miss in their soup of goodness.
Be a model for your child and show gratitude for every act of kindness that comes your way. Do not let questions like “Why didn’t dad thank the security guard when he opened the door for us?” arise in their little brain. Also showing gratitude to your child is only going to work in your favor. A simple “Thank you for finishing your chore” will help you teach them gratefulness.
3. Roleplay and games
Who does not love roleplay with kids? A simple activity where one can become the magic tree that will only fulfill wishes when accompanied by a sense of gratitude. Make sure to use this opportunity to teach your kids to use please and thank you. Put your creative hat on and make the rules to this game to suit your parenting.
4. Daily gratitude
Once your child learns to show gratitude without prompts, provoking them to dig deeper will help instill gratitude. Asking questions every day, like “What are the five things that happened today that you are thankful for?” or “What did you feel when you received the gift from grandma today?” will help them find gratitude within.
It is also important to be grateful for yourself. Make sure you also help them appreciate parts of themselves.
5. Action speaks louder
Most of you might believe in something called Karma and would have a definition of your own for the same. Teaching your kids that a return gift or favor will always make the person on the other end, feel appreciated and in turn make oneself feel appreciated. Teaching them to speak through actions will always be a great addition to their character.
Next time your child brings you something, make sure to thank them and give them a kiss on their cheek. This could be the initial step to teaching them about returning gifts or favors.
6. Visual experience
Take them to a place where hard realities can be experienced first hand. Like a school for the visually challenged, or an orphanage. Tell them right from the beginning that what life holds for some and how we are fortunate and how they are special in their own ways.
While you do this, make sure you never compare… just let them know, each one is special in their own ways and we should be thankful for what we have.
Children tend to be curious about the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of the world. Parents must always remember to answer their questions with clarity if you want them to follow something on their own. Once your child learns that saying thank you and being grateful is the best way to appreciate something, they will surely show gratitude.
8. Reading stories
If your kids are still members of the fantastic fantasyland and love to hear stories, then you are in luck. You can induce thankfulness and gratitude with the right stories. Sometimes even good cartoons can help.
Kids love to stick to rituals. It’s embedded in humans but is most prevalent in kids. Ask them to complete a task filled with gratitude every day and reward them with something small. Do not make the reward big as that may encourage greed. Try if you can do it just with encouragement and not something of value.
Some simple rituals can be feeding birds, saying hello to neighbors, thanking before meals, praying each day, and many more.
10. During the hard times
As your child grows up, life gets harder and they might find it hard to find things to be grateful for. In such circumstances, it is necessary to find the silver lining. This might seem hard to accomplish, but it is not impossible. Begin the process of teaching this by asking them questions about what came out of the situation, what they learned from it, and how they will come out of it.
Remember, before asking your child to look at the bright side, allow them time to accept the situation and understand it better.
Teaching gratitude to children is a difficult process and there might also be times when your child is ungrateful, this does not mean that you have failed to teach them gratitude. It is something your child has to experiment with and learn on their own. It is not just about saying thank you for a formality, but also about feeling grateful for the tiniest of the things like a happy moment or the food they eat. These are qualities your child will adapt from you, and as a parent, you need to teach your children the concept of gratefulness, a path towards happy living.
As said, the first step is to practice yourself, so go ahead, and if you liked this post express your love and thankfulness by sharing it with other parents who would need it. After all, we are all in this together.
Thank you for helping in making this world a better place.