This week’s #TuesdayTip includes ways to teach kids gratitude throughout the year, not just at the Thanksgiving table. On this popular, “stretchy-pants” holiday, your family members may take turns saying what each is thankful for. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear your child say, “I’m so grateful for…” more than once a year? This becomes increasingly important as insecurity and jealousy rear their ugly heads. As my boys enter their teenage years, comparing themselves with other kids will become increasingly common – but reminding ourselves of the abundance of blessings we have is a great way to mitigate those comparisons, that insecurity, and that jealousy.
Why It’s Important
I believe gratitude instills a level of appreciation for what we have – and that lends itself to happiness. When we’re grateful, it’s easier to feel “full” – meaning the yearning for more stuff minimizes. When gratitude is fostered, kids express greater appreciation for what they’ve been given without whining about it not being enough. As they get older, their gratitude will lead to a healthier life. How? According to Psychology Today, gratitude can lead to positivity, greater life satisfaction, health benefits, and happiness. When our brain focuses on gratitude, it steers away from our tendency to worry and dwell on negative aspects of our life. Instead, gratitude allows us to experience positive emotions, such as joy, love, and contentment. I don’t know about you, but I’ve gotten myself out of a funk simply by calculating my blessings.
How to Teach Gratitude
A couple of years ago, I went to a friend’s house for playgroup. On her kitchen wall, I saw a board with each family member’s name. Beside it was what each person was grateful for. This was done every couple of weeks. I loved the idea so much that I made a chalkboard out of a framed mirror, and started this tradition. To this day, I ask my kids every few weeks what they’re grateful for. Sometimes Buttercheeks will give me hilarious, random answers like, “dinosaur,” which is fine. I’m planting the seed and training their brains. Now two years later, Flash was asked to say thank you to my brother’s family for their gifts. He started off his sentence, unprompted, with, “I am SO grateful for all my presents!” You don’t need a chalkboard for this, obviously, but I like to use it as decor. To see how I did it, you can check out my old post.
Other ways to teach it:
- Model it as a parent
- Get them in the habit of writing “thank you” cards after receiving presents
- Consistently saying “thank you” to someone who’s done them good
- Thank a coach or teacher with a handwritten letter
- Volunteer to help the less fortunate
- Encourage generosity by giving away toys (we do this every few months, even if it’s just one toy)
- Practice saying “no” when your child wants that candy bar, toy, book, etc.
- Emphasize the celebration instead of the gifts (i.e., decorating the tree, lighting the menorah, baking cookies, spending time together)
Remember, like many things we want to instill in our children, it takes time and consistency! Be patient, but it will come if you put in the effort.
What have you done as a parent, or did your parents do with you, to instill gratitude?