Instilling gratitude in our children can seem an endless task. Between the increasing level of consumption of material goods, and the comparison born from consuming social media, it can be challenging to help our children have an attitude of gratitude. But, like many parenting tasks, it’s a necessary one to help them be successful and happy adults. Gratitude will help them be happy with who they are, what they have, and their place in life, without the angst of keeping up with the Joneses.
Explain what gratitude is and why it is important.
When teaching children something, it’s best to break it down in manageable, simple terms. Let them know that gratitude means being thankful for the material things they have, the people they share their lives with, and their status in the world. Get them to reflect on how being grateful makes them feel, and not that grateful people are happier, and enjoy more long-term success.
Be a gratitude role model.
We know that children soak up each and everything they see. Now it’s your time to model grateful behavior so they take it in, and later mirror it back to you. Thank your partner for doing the dishes, express appreciation for a friend who helped you out, or say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with others. Your children will pick up on these cues and learn that expressing gratitude is important.
Help them find things to be grateful for.
We can all struggle to see the silver lining in difficult situations (yes Dads, I mean you too!). It’s not uncommon for children to find it difficult to define what they’re grateful for, particularly if they’re feeling down. If your child is upset about not getting invited to a friend’s birthday, help them see they now have time to do other things they enjoy. With a pet’s passing, get them to share the happy memories they made together. Recognize they might be disappointed or sad about something, but don’t let it take over the situation in its entirety. The ability to see the positive will serve them well as they age.
Teaching your children to have an attitude of gratitude is one of the best things you can do for your child’s future happiness and success. Modeling grateful behavior yourself and helping them find things to appreciate will go a long way in instilling this important virtue in your kids!