Ensuring your children are always learning life lessons in the best way possible can be hard sometimes. As a parent, you want your child to develop into an amazing human being who contributes positively to the world. Part of learning how to be a good member of this world is feeling and expressing gratitude, and it’s our responsibility as the parent to make sure this happens.
Here are six effective methods for teaching your children gratitude.
~ Lead the Way
As your children learn to be grateful and learn how to express their gratitude, the biggest example of how they learn is actually you, the parent. It is vital that you fully understand the concept of gratitude on a personal level for the simple reason that you can’t teach something you don’t understand. It only makes sense that you must adhere to all the following advice yourself if you want and anticipate your kids to be grateful.
~ Teach Sharing
Autonomy for a child teaches her that she has a healthy level of control and independence. It allows her to explore the world around her at her own pace while learning how to make healthy decisions.
However, sharing is equally as important as independence. When a child shares, she is made aware that what she is sharing doesn’t just bring her joy. Rather, other people find joy in whatever she’s sharing.
Sharing encourages a child to understand the simple concept of borrowing. It’s easier to respect a toy that we borrow temporarily for the sake of sharing because, suddenly, there’s an expectation that the time spent with that toy is finite.
~ Keep Gratitude Journals
It’s simply not enough to feel grateful, although feeling grateful is a wonderful and important thing. In order to have the best, most positive place in our own worlds, we must also learn to appropriately express our gratitude. This shows others that their impacts on us are equally as important to us.
So what if your child is a beginner in expressing gratitude and doesn’t quite know how to articulate it yet? Start a gratitude journal! This is as simple as your child writing one to two sentences a night about what they’re grateful for right before they go to bed.
~ Teach Chores
Just as sharing teaches a child how to be accountable and grateful, so do chores. As parents, it can be too tempting to simply always pick up after our kids to keep the peace. Say, for instance, your kids sit down to watch TV after a long, hard school day. There’s peace and quiet in the house, but there are also shoes strewn about by the door, bookbags tossed down the hallways, damp towels still in the bathroom from their morning showers, and snack wrappers on the kitchen counters. At this moment, you have two choices:
~ Clean up their messes to enjoy the peace and quiet
~ Hold them accountable for their own messes.
There is no right or wrong choice for a parent to make because both have their positive outcomes and negative outcomes. However, only one of these choices will reinforce lessons of gratitude in your children.
If you choose to hold your children accountable for their messes, they become aware of how much you do for them every single day, and, as a byproduct, become grateful.
~ De-Emphasize the Importance of Possessions
The best way to de-emphasize the importance of possessions is to teach your children to give away a possession for every possession they receive. Why? There are many benefits to doing this, but the most important benefit is that it teaches a child to be grateful for what they have, while they have it.
If a child assumes they will possess a toy indefinitely, it very well may become insignificant and unimportant over time. However, if a child understands that he must give up a toy in order to receive a toy, the sacrifice, albeit small, becomes a natural queue for gratitude to enter into your child’s heart.
~ Mind Your Manners
The last method by which you can teach your children gratitude is to mind your manners. Saying “please” and “thank you” are outward expressions of kindness. As a child develops their ability to express kindness better, gratitude undoubtedly follows.
Consider a child who brings you their empty cup and demands more juice without using their kind words. If you were to get it at the demand, do you think she will be grateful when you return with a new glass of juice? Chances are she won’t be because she wasn’t kind, to begin with, and certainly won’t feel kindness at the end.
However, if your child demands more juice and you ask her to say, “Please,” once you bring the full glass back, she will more than likely feel gratitude as she is able to connect her kind words with a positive outcome in a practical way. These types of situations will teach her that kindness and gratitude will get a person much further than being abrasive and demanding.
Utilizing these six helpful tips is a practical, easy, positive, and efficient way to teach your children gratitude. Remember, you must be willing to go the distance, set the example, and lead the way!
About the Author:
The Homefaker’s Homestead is a lifestyle blog that teaches rising homemakers and homesteaders efficient tips, tricks, and hacks for becoming the best version of themselves. The Homefaker’s Homestead relates to the self-taught person who is a self-starter and who desires to learn more about homemaking, homesteading, saving money, parenting, and everything else in between.