Children are not born with feelings of gratitude. They are born with a sense of entitlement. This is not a negative thing at all. They are entitled to be fed, clothed, sheltered, and loved. This is the reason we need to teach them to be grateful. An attitude of gratitude builds character and well-being by teaching kids to appreciate what they have and what others do for them. It brings on a positive mood which will follow them throughout their lives. It’s hard to be negative and sad when you are feeling grateful.
“A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.” – Cicero
Granted some kids live their entire lives with a sense of entitlement, but you can help yours become more self-sufficient and empathetic members of society with these helpful guidelines.
Be A Role Model
- Just like everything else you want to teach your child, you must practice what you preach. Make sure and thank everyone out loud for even the smallest kindness.
- Tell your kids how much you appreciate them with words, hugs, and short notes.
- Help them understand a kind gesture deserves as much gratitude as a gift.
- Don’t rush out and but every new fad that comes along or try to keep up with ‘The Joneses’. They’ll appreciate what they already have and be grateful when they do receive something special.
- Explain the difference between needs and wants.
- Focus on experiences and family time not things. This can really boost self-esteem as they learn they mean more than the stuff they have.
- Count Blessings
Make a habit at bed time to name three or more things they are grateful for. They’ll soon realize they have all sorts of things to be thankful for and it’s a great habit to get into.
- Helping at a homeless shelter, visiting the aged, and helping a young mother with her children will show that giving time to those less fortunate will make them feel really good.
- It will also make them appreciate all the things they do have.
Thank You Notes
- Thank you notes never go out of style. At least have them send a thank you e-mail for a gift or kindness. Focus on the thoughtfulness of the gift, not just the gift itself.
- While they’re at it have them send a letter to a teacher, nurse, service person, or veteran to thank them for their service.
Thank You Tree
Draw a tree on large paper and cut out some leaves. Have your child write something they are grateful for on each leaf and tape it to the tree. Keep the leaves in an accessible place so they can grab one at any time. Older children may like writing their thoughts about gratitude in a journal.
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh