Teaching Gratitude in a Material World
Gratitude is a positive way of looking at life.
When we help children understand and express gratitude we give them the tools to feel happier and be happier. An attitude of gratitude makes day to day life amazing as little things can actually make each day wonderful.
Kids learn by observing what you do. With this in mind, please be cognizant of how you express your gratitude and treat others in your day to day life. Remember, little eyes are watching. I’ve put together a few strategies to foster gratitude in yourself and your children.
1: Express gratitude! Comment on the beauty around you(Wow, look at how pretty the sky is. Did you see the beautiful color of that tree?). Express gratitude for everyday things (I’m so happy that we have a car to take us to your soccer games. Isn’t it great that you have friends to play with.) Ask them what they are grateful for and how it makes them feel when they think of these things. Start a gratitude jar. Read the notes at the end of each week.
2: Say thank you: set an example by saying thank you in their presence. Thank those who give you service: cashiers, waitresses, if someone holds that door for you… make sure your child takes notice. These are teachable moments. Help/remind them to say thank you.
3: Volunteer or help those less fortunate and have your child tag along or make it a family affair. Research places that need volunteers (animal shelters, soup kitchens…) Help your neighbors. Shovel a neighbor’s driveway without payment, Bake cookies for homeless shelters.
Take note of how it makes them feel to help for the sake of helping? I once took my daughter to the walk in clinic and there was a young woman there who was clearly sick. She was on the phone in the waiting room trying to reach anyone to lend her some money so she could see a doctor.
My daughter was watching her while we were waiting. As we were called in to see the doctor, I stopped by the counter and told the nurse I would be paying for the woman’s appointment. I requested that the nurse not tell the young lady who paid her bill, but to just say that we hoped she felt better soon. My daughter listened without saying a word. After our doctor visit, she said she was hoping we could help the girl and was happy we did. Clearly, she was observing my actions without my saying anything. Innately she wanted to help. Thankfully, I had the resources to lend a helping hand.
4: Ask your child to notice how they feel when they do something helpful or are helped themselves. How does it feel to help others? It’s important to associate the feeling of gratitude with being grateful so that it permeates their body and mind. You want them to feel wonderful for helping others and to know that they can make a positive difference in someone’s life.
If you’re needing assistance with finding balance or want someone to connect with regarding parenting issues, schedule a Parent SOULutions Consult today!