Why Is Being Grateful Important for Kids?
Teaching gratitude goes beyond instilling manners and polite behavior in your kids. Gratitude is a way of life. Being thankful and feeling blessed can bring a sense of positivity and appreciation to you and your family’s lives. Gratitude can improve relationships, boost overall health, and help you and your family gain perspective. Being aware of all the gifts and opportunities you have in life brings more happiness to your whole family.
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s a great time to introduce more gratitude practices into your home. Here are some tips and exercises on how to get started!
Tips For Building Gratitude with Your Kids
- Set a good example
If you want to instill a sense of thankfulness in your child’s life, start by making gratitude an important part of YOUR daily routine. The best way to lead is through example.
Everyday, write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. Vocalize your list to your child and explain why gratitude is so important.
- Acknowledge your gratitudes as a family
Make it a daily routine together, whether you express your gratitudes during a meal or on a car ride to school, make this acknowledgement an important part of the day.
Mix it up! Get your kids brainstorming by coming up with different areas of where you all feel thankful. Having a specific focus such as family, friends, school, etc. might help your child narrow down his or her thoughts. Monday could be three things they value about their friends, while Tuesday could be something they appreciate about every family member. This gives your child a sense of direction with their gratitudes, and can teach them to have appreciation in lots of areas in their lives.
- Use thank-you’s abundantly
Show how much you value others by thanking them often. This can be to your children, spouse, neighbors, or your server at dinner. Remember to tell your kids thank you for doing things around the house…even their chores or homework. There is no such thing as too many thank-yous, especially when it is a genuine show of gratitude!
Write notes to family members, thanking them for something they did or said. Send it in your kids’ lunch boxes, in a school book, or (if you have teenagers) in their car. Finding an unexpected thank you note can be an exciting surprise, while also teaching them how important it is to show gratitude.
- Teach the importance of hard work
When something is earned and not just given, we all feel a greater sense of appreciation. If kids are showered with everything they ask for, their gifts can lose their value. Working for what they want creates a sense of pride, builds confidence, and instills a sense of appreciation and thankfulness.
When your child wants a new toy, encourage them to first make space in their room by going through old toys to see if there is anything they no longer want. Give them chores to do around the house, so they can earn some extra cash. Invite older children to help prepare dinner, and then enjoy the meal they help put on the table. Remember to thank them for helping out!
- In times of hardship, find gratitude
It can be easy to get caught up in the challenges of our daily lives, even for kids! Use struggles that pop up as a time to change attitudes and be thankful for opportunities and growth.
When your children starts expressing complaints, acknowledge their feelings and then try to redirect their thinking into more positive and grateful patterns. For example, if they’re complaining about how much homework they have, acknowledge their frustration and also point out how studying will really prepare them for high school, college, etc. Finding a silver lining is a great habit to build when your kids are younger!