As a parent, you teach your child the lessons they need to learn to succeed. You guide their understanding of the world. You give them the roadmap to life, and highlight the different paths they can use to flourish and prosper.
The question is – what values do you wish to impart on your little one? What lessons will become a part of your role as a parent?
Gratitude is an important trait that some parents neglect to foster. Has your child developed an attitude of gratitude? Or is the word thank-you more often left forgotten?
Perhaps it’s time to encourage a little more appreciation, thankfulness, and gratitude in your little one!
Why is Gratitude Important for Kids?
Teaching your child the practice of gratitude has a multitude of benefits, both now in the present moment, and in the years to come.
Many studies have been conducted on the fostering and practice of gratitude in adults. These studies have demonstrated that being grateful and appreciative on a regular basis has many physical and emotional benefits, from decreasing anxiety, to improving sleep patterns and circadian rhythms.
Teaching your child to develop a habit of gratitude early on will guide them as they grow and mature into young adults. The life lessons we learn as children often stay with us, far into our later years. By guiding your child’s mindset and steering them toward opportunities to express their appreciation, you’re empowering them to succeed both now, and later in life.
A grateful child will find far more opportunities presented to them than an ungrateful one. An appreciative child will benefit far more profoundly than an entitled one.
If your child develops a habit of entitlement and expectation, this will only serve to make your life more challenging. It’s nearly impossible to cope with a little one that constantly has their hand outstretched for the next treat or a new toy. The price of satisfaction for a child like this will continue to rise, until their appetite for more will no longer be satisfied with the status quo.
Gratitude is important for both kids and adults. But by teaching your child to develop an attitude of gratitude, you’ll be handing them the keys to future success.
5 Strategies to Help Instill an Attitude of Gratitude In Your Kids
Alright, so we’ve established that a grateful child will likely be a happier and healthier child, but how on earth do you impart this lesson to a four-year-old?
The trick to nurturing this trait in children is to turn opportunities for gratitude into fun games or exercises that they can actively partake in.
So, here are 5 ways you can incorporate a little more gratitude into your child’s life.
1. Show Your Kids What Appreciation Looks Like
Ever heard the phrase: lead by example? Well, that’s exactly how this one works!
Your kids look up to you. You’re their super-mom, their super-dad, and they often watch your behavior to see how you interact with the world.
If you want your children to understand what gratitude looks like, you’ll have to show them. And that means piping up in the appreciation department.
If your partner cooks dinner for the family, be sure your kids see and hear you loudly thank your partner for their hard work in providing food for the family. When you roll through a drive-thru, thank the employees that serve you at each step along the way. If someone holds the door for you and your little one as you enter or leave a building, smile, nod, and say thank-you.
Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. Say it once. Say it a hundred times. No matter how repetitive or insistent it becomes. Keep saying it. You’ll be hearing it from your kids in no time.
2. Encourage Your Kids to Try Volunteer Work
It’s never too early to begin volunteering. And there’s plenty kids can do to contribute to the cause.
Service work is an important aspect of gratitude, and when children give back to their communities, it helps them understand that they are part of a larger network. It also gives them the opportunity to meet lots of different people from diverse backgrounds and environments. They may even make a new friend or two!
Set up a visit to a retirement home. Donate old toys. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or local food shelter. Bake treats to deliver to local firemen or police officers. Sign up for a local 5k and raise money for a charity.
The opportunities to help serve your community are nearly endless. Get your kids in on the volunteer action!
3. Begin a Bedtime Gratitude Meditation
Now, don’t let the word meditation unnerve you. This is more of a bedtime gratitude practice, more than anything else. But by calling it a meditation, you’ll encourage your kids to view the space and time you take together as a special act — one to be honored and valued.
Before your kiddie is tucked into bed, spend a few minutes discussing how each of your days went. Share the moments of your day that stood out to you as being worthy of appreciation and gratitude. Tell your child how you felt about those moments, and why they were important. Then, ask you child to do the same.
Sharing these intimate moments together will give you an opportunity to connect on a thoughtful level with your child. And, it will help instill a more appreciative perspective in the mind and heart of your little one.
4. Read Books About Gratitude and Appreciation
Kids books often focus on a theme or positive message, so try to find a few that celebrate thankfulness and appreciation.
Reading stories like this together with your child will encourage them to recognize opportunities to be appreciative in their own lives.
When you can, see if you can relate real-life examples to the encounters the characters have in the books. This helps breech the gap between the world of the story and the tangible world your child operates in, making the lessons easier to apply.
5. Try the Name Your Blessings Game
This one is great for the car! The next time you’re running an errand with your child, try playing the Name Your Blessings Game!
See how many blessings your child can name without stopping. Or, take turns naming blessings, and see how long you can go. Challenge yourselves to make it all the way to your destination without running out of blessings.
This game may or may not unravel into silly answers, but it’s an engaging practice nonetheless! You’re sure to have fun playing, and you’re simultaneously encouraging your little one to recognize all the great things they have in their life!
Which of these practices do you think would be most effective? Are you going to try any with your little one? Share with other parents you think might be interested in incorporating the attitude of gratitude into their children’s lives!
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