Art of Giving: 9 Ways To Teach Your Kids Gratitude
Incorporating these small things in your daily life can move children closer to knowing more about gratitude.
The last time my husband got home from his travels, he handed over a packet of their favorite chocolates to the boys. They waited expectantly as he was unpacking, hoping for more goodies to be passed on.
When he mentioned that he had absolutely no time to shop during this trip, their smile turned into a frown and they asked, “You really did not get anything ELSE for us this time?” Shooting a look of disappointment, they went down to play.
Before the better–half succumbed to a guilt trip and took them to their favorite store for not having got anything for them, I made the boys sit and understand that there would be times when they would be disappointed.
And that rather than focusing on what they did not get, they could focus on what they have and be thankful for it.
My 8 year old twin boys didn’t quite get the message, but I realised that their sense of entitlement was strong because they were surrounded by people who gave into everything that they wanted.
If I were to put it very straight, the boys were getting stuff without knowing or caring where it comes from. Often, not thankful for what they received. That made me take a step back and let them into a world of gratitude.
It isn’t easy to teach gratitude to kids. It can take days, months or years for them to understand what gratitude means.
Incorporating these small things in your daily life can make a difference and move children closer to knowing more about gratitude.
Ask Them What Are They Grateful For
We try not to miss this one ritual. Every night, just take out two minutes to ask them to list at least three things that made them happy or they are grateful for.
It makes a sea of difference when they understand what they are thankful for.
Make a Gratitude Jar
Take an empty glass canister and let them write any one thing that they are grateful for in the day. Fold and put it in the jar. Colour co-ordinate the papers for different members of the family.
Having a low day? Pick a chit and read what you wrote. Chances are that you’ll focus on gratitude than what you are lacking.
Let Them Share
Most of the times, the boys end up with multiple similar gifts. I’ve made it a habit to get them to share those gifts. Whether it is contributing to a toy donation drive or sharing it with street kids.
Sharing makes them understand a different aspect of happiness – they can make someone happy too.
Write ‘Thank You’ Notes
This is something that I have to start, but I love the thought of this! A small note to thank people in your life.
Ask your children to write a note to their teachers on how grateful they are to have learnt things under their guidance. As a parent, you write a thank you-note to your child to let them know what you feel.
Teach Them to Look at the Silver Lining
You know there is a reason why it’s called an attitude of gratitude.
When you make your child look at the positives than dwell on self-pity, you are helping them grow into confident people who will look at solutions rather than focus on the problems.
Sometimes, it helps to re-look at the blessings they may be overlooking.
Let Them Help at Home
I have always been the kind who is low on patience. Watching the kids complete a task is agonising. Yes, even if takes them forever to clean the mess, let them do it. I fight away the temptation to step in and wrap up the work. You know why?
By participating in simple household chores children realise that it takes effort and they will be thankful when someone steps in for them.
Give Them Less
When you give them more, they appreciate it less. After a huge meltdown over inline skates, the boys were bought a pair each. Guess what?
Two falls later, the inline skates were packed because it was too much effort and they hasn’t seen the light of day for two years.
Give them gifts that they will appreciate rather than succumbing to every demand.
Make a ‘Gratitude Journal’
Maintaining a gratitude journal helps them write down things that they are grateful for. It works as a wonderful reminder to focus on the good and the positive.
A gratitude journal works best for kids who are at least seven years or older.
Set an Example
If you want your child to learn about gratitude, you need to set an example too. Have you told your children what you are thankful for today? Children learn from what we do.
Make it a point to talk about the happy parts of the day and make a conscious choice to not complain.
(Pratibha Pal spent her childhood in idyllic places only fauji kids would have heard of. When she's not rooting for eco-living or whipping up some DIY recipes to share with her readers, Pratibha is creating magic with social media. You can view her blog at www.pratsmusings.com or reach to her on Twitter at @myepica.)
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