Being thankful goes beyond politeness and etiquette. According to research by the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, people who practice gratitude feel considerably happier; they are more joyful, enthusiastic, interested, and determined. An attitude of gratitude and appreciation helps us thrive. While some gear naturally toward thankfulness, most of us need to learn to be more grateful. As parents, how can we lovingly provide for our kids without turning them into spoiled brats? How can we teach them an attitude of gratitude? Try these 3 tips to encourage a mindset of thankfulness in your little ones.
- Serve as a role model
Gratitude is not simply a lesson taught to children. It is a continuous exercise for every adult. Work on acknowledging your blessings, and being grateful for what you have. When interacting with your kids, say “please” and “thank you” so that good manners are what we do, not what we say we do. When they help you carry the grocery bags or offer to clean up their rooms, say “thank you.” When they hear these two words often, they are instilled in their vocabulary, and a lifelong practice begins, even if it doesn't stick at first.
- Share the gift of giving and service
Receiving gifts is fun, but as a parent, you need to help your kids to also recognize the joy of giving. Get them involved in giving old toys to less fortunate children, and decorating thank you notes for their siblings — remember to tell them how great it is to make someone else's day brighter. You can even volunteer together with your child at nursing homes or pack goods at calamity relief centers.
- Create gratitude lists or even a gratitude notebook
Together with holiday and birthday wishlists, encourage each member of the family to list down the things they are grateful for, be in the form of a list, or comprehensively through a gratitude notebook. By realizing how much you have, you can promote an attitude of appreciation inside the home and your kids will grow up seeing the extra goodness of life.
Researchers are finding that thankfulness can indeed be nurtured and taught. With your support, guidance and example, your children will gradually absorb an invaluable message: To show and give thanks is its own reward.
Sack, David MD. “From Entitled to Thankful: Raising Children with an Attitude of Gratitude.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sack-md/gratitude_b_2277960.html, 13 December 2012. Web. 10 February 2014.