Gratitude is a very hard thing to teach children. When so many adults don’t seem to exhibit this needed trait, it is easy to see that teaching it to children can be difficult. But it is a necessary thing to teach kids, and most parents want to teach this to their children. Here are some simple ways you can start showing your child what gratitude is- just in time for the holidays!
Understand your child
Before you can teach your child anything, it is important for you to learn how your child learns. Some kids are visual learners, others need to have examples set and rules taught to them. Keep in mind that no child understands gratitude easily. In fact, it is a common trait for toddlers and even adolescents to be selfish. It’s a stage they all experience. Accept that and understand it will be a challenge before you even try to show your child how to express gratitude.
Set the example by being grateful- to your child
This may seem shocking to some people, but if you show your child gratitude, they will model that behavior. For example, if your child gives you a rock (hey, it happens to a lot of parents) you then should show them gratitude. If they help you do the dishes, exude gratitude. They need to see this modeled for them in order for them to understand it, and if they can associate that feeling of accomplishment that people get when thanked or shown gratitude for their efforts with telling someone “thank you” then they will be more likely to do it. In other words, they like being thanked, so they will in turn do it.
Discuss things with gratefulness
Gratitude doesn’t always mean that you enjoy something someone has done or given you. Sometimes, gratitude is just being thankful for everyday things. To teach this to your child, talk about it. For example, you can say “I am so thankful you got Mrs. Smith as your teacher this year. She’s a great teacher.” Or you can say “It’s so nice that daddy has a good job and can take care of our family the way he does.” By doing this, your children will see that you are grateful for the little, everyday things in life.
Ask them to help
If you want your child to appreciate you and show you gratitude, ask them to help you with chores. The more they understand what it is you do for them every single day, the more they will show you appreciation for your efforts, because they have experienced it firsthand. Remember, sometimes children don’t understand a concept unless it applies to them or they have experienced it.
Take your kids with you to volunteer. Once they see all they have compared to what others do not have, the more they will appreciate their lives. Plus, it shows them that giving back is important to you, your family, and to the community in which they live.
Write thank you letters
Anytime they receive a gift or someone does something nice for them, have your child hand write a thank you letter. It teaches appreciation and good etiquette.
How do you teach your children gratitude?