Parents wear a lot of different hats. Some days your doctor skills are tested patching up a skinned knee while other days, you’re a limo driver chauffeuring your kids from one activity to another. And every day you don your chef’s hat – kiddos have to eat, right?
The one hat that parents never seem to take off is their teacher hat. You teach your kids everything from their ABCs and tying their shoes to how to be a good person. One lesson that’s important for parents to master is raising a grateful child in an entitled world.
Benefits of Teaching Your Children to be Grateful
Your child receives plenty of benefits from learning about gratitude. Here are a few of them:
Having an attitude of gratitude will make children happier.
Being grateful improves a child’s physical and mental health. That will make them better people and provide for a more rewarding childhood. Understanding gratitude will also help make them resilient when life becomes challenging.
Grateful kids are less materialistic and not always longing for the next “thing.” They’ll also be more optimistic and less self-centered.
Teaching your children about gratitude provides them a foundation from which they can positively grow as an individual. Follow these tips on how to raise a grateful child.
Work in a Soup Kitchen
The holidays are an ideal time to develop gratitude in children. They might not understand that there are people struggling with real-life problems such as keeping a roof over their heads or putting food on the table. Volunteer to work at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving. They’ll see firsthand that many people don’t have as much as they do.
Experiences, not Stuff
Money can buy lots of things. But those material objects that one collects throughout life provide a short-lived gratification. Instead, give your children experiences. Summer vacations, apple picking in the fall, and holiday traditions – those family events provide memories that will last them a lifetime.
Attitude of Gratitude Routine
As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Start a gratitude routine so that your child gets into a daily habit of finding reasons to be grateful. Right before bed is an ideal time. Ask to hear two or three events from their day that they’re grateful for. Or, write them in a journal so the two of you can look back on the year.
Be an Example
Some of the most important lessons to teach are the simplest ones. Start with two words: thank you.
The easiest way to do this is by example. You can find countless times each day to thank someone, even for the smallest of favors. Practice saying your thank yous so that your child will too.
Find the Silver Lining
Kids need to learn that not everything in life will go their way. Instead of focusing on their disappointment with how a certain event unfolded, teach them to accentuate the positive. If they look hard enough, they can find the positive that comes from a negative.
Today’s society tends to focus on accomplishments in terms of prestige and the accumulation of goods. There’s nothing wrong with success at the highest level, however, don’t let your child lose sight of the importance of being generous.
That can start at home by teaching children to be generous and share with their siblings, as hard as that might be sometimes. But that lesson can also expand beyond the home. Donate toys and clothes to charities that benefit those in need. Have them write thank you notes when they receive gifts. And make the focus of the holidays more about the celebration and less about getting presents.
Young children tend to think mom and dad’s wallets are bottomless pits that produce an endless supply of dollars. Show them that isn’t the case by teaching them the value of money.
When they get old enough and they see something they want to buy, make them help with the purchase by spending some of their own money. They’ll learn to appreciate what they have once they realize they need to spend their own money to obtain what they want.
Teach Politeness and Respect
Politeness and respect seem to be traits that can be hard to come by in society nowadays. Like many other lessons, that starts at home. Sure, it’s easy to be respectful to people in authority positions, such as teachers and police officers. But kids need to learn to treat everyone they encounter that way.
Children learn many lessons as they grow into adults. Some good, some not so good. The best lessons they’ll learn will come from their parents. Remember, it’s never too early to teach the lesson of gratitude.