We love grateful children and the many ways they show their appreciation, but can “giving thanks” also be taught? A topic on many parents’ minds is how to raise a child that is appreciative. One of the worst feelings is when a parent takes a child on an outing, you both have a great time, only then for the child to want more or to throw a tantrum because they didn’t get their way as you are leaving.
What steps can we take to raise a grateful child? How can we teach kids to give thanks and be content with what they have? In this article, we’ll give you some helpful tips on how important it is to give thanks!
Set A Good Example
When it comes to behavior, the most important thing that we as parents can do is to be good role models. Children look up to us to see what’s acceptable and what’s not. Values like honesty, integrity, empathy, kindness, and gratefulness are best taught to your little ones by practicing them yourself.
Be grateful and mean it. Make a habit of giving thanks or calling loved ones to tell them you appreciate them. Did your child finish their chores with no complaints? Tell them how much it means to you. Thank them. They’ll normalize this behavior, mimicking it naturally, and will be quickly on their way to becoming grateful children.
Also, practicing gratitude at the end of each day is a great way to get your little one appreciating the little things in life. Was it sunny and beautiful today? Was tonight’s dinner extra delicious? Were the evening cartoons really funny? Talk with your child about the most wonderful moments in their day and explain how lucky they are to have experienced them.
Encourage Your Child To Help Others
Lending a helping hand is a great way for kids to develop a sense of gratitude. Volunteer with them at a local children’s hospital, help collect canned food to donate to a shelter, bake holiday cookies for the neighbors, or walk an elderly woman’s dog. VolunteerMatch.org will show you volunteer opportunities in your area that you and your children can do together, like a local beach cleanup.
Get your kids excited about volunteering and sharing time with other grateful children by choosing work that produces results they can see. Giving thanks and receiving them are both important. Here’s an example: Volunteer to plant trees with a local organization, so every time you drive by the tree, you can say “You planted that tree!” They’ll feel an exciting sense of accomplishment, and they’ll also understand the work that goes into all the trees and flowers in public spaces.
Teach your child the value of little acts. It can be hard for kids to understand how much value something may have or even how money works. They don’t get why some children have more than others and why they can’t have all the shiny new toys in the store.
Have them “work” for special rewards and most importantly, thank them for their achievements. Does your little one want a new action figure? Tell them, “If you help your brother or sister clean the playroom this week, we’ll go on a special trip on Saturday to get that toy you’ve been wanting.”
Make sure they know the moral of the story: people have to work hard for the things they want. On top of that, if receiving something for free, encourage giving thanks for the effort that person has made, even if it’s you.
Go 24-Hours Without Negativity
How kids say thank you is as important as the words themselves. If they frequently use a negative or even sarcastic tone, it could be because they’re exposed to too much negativity. Often, raising grateful kids is as much about considering your own actions as theirs.
Why not challenge the whole family to go 24-hours without a single complaint? Turn it into a game. The ones who make it to the end get a special ice cream treat.
At the end of the game, reflect on what you learned. Think about how looking at the bright side of things affected your mood. Afterward, you can brainstorm ways to deal with challenges without using negative speech.
Give Thanks Together
The classic tradition at Thanksgiving dinner or during Umoja Karamu is to go around the table listing things we’re grateful for and giving thanks for them. It could be family and friends, school, your home, or the delicious Thanksgiving dinner. Instead of just doing this once a year, it is a great habit to get into on a regular basis.
Set a day each week like on a Friday, for example, to list five things you’re thankful for. And then get creative. At Christmas, have them make a list of things they’re grateful for from last Christmas. During back-to-school season, challenge them to make a list of things they’re excited about. Pick a theme to get the wheels turning and to make it fun.
It may seem unrelated, but limiting your child’s exposure to advertisements and other types of online consumption can actually decrease their desire for more, including more toys, more clothes, more books, and such. The less they ask for material things, the more content they’ll be and the more grateful children are for what they have.
You can limit the amount of advertising your child views with the Lingokids app, your child will learn in a controlled and ad-free environment, so you don’t have to worry about targeted advertisements giving them ideas for their holiday Wishlist and more.
At Lingokids, they strive to instill good habits in children from a young age. They have online learning tools that can help children beyond concrete subjects. It helps them to form their cognitive and analytical abilities while having fun playing games.
This article was originally posted on the Lingokids blog.
Why Raise A Grateful Child?
Research studies out of Harvard have proven that grateful people are more positive and satisfied in their own lives. Here is why it is important to foster gratitude in children.
- It fosters optimism
- It helps one feel better about their lives
- Their is a connection with positivity and good health
- Those who practice optimism are overall more happier in life
- The positive good feelings are long lasting
- Genuine gratitude toward another person can help build great relationships
- Just saying “thank you” motivates others
- Those who keep a gratitude journal are more satisfied with their lives