As parents, we want our children to show appreciation and gratitude. One of the first social rules we teach our children is to say thank you. Here are some ways to reinforce the meaningfulness of not taking things for granted.
● Be An Example. Our children observe everything we do. Demonstrate being thankful, even to them, by saying thank you when someone is helpful or when someone shows you an act of kindness.
● Generosity Is Contagious. Point out to your children when you observe someone, even them, doing something above and beyond to be thoughtful.
● Talk About It. Little ones need our help to process and understand emotions. Through conversation, explore their feelings with them. How do they feel when they are appreciated and thanked? How do they feel when their efforts are noticed?
● Have Fun With It. Some children are shy. Some are not comfortable expressing themselves. Encourage a thumbs up or a big smile. Drawings are always a wonderful keepsake.
● Give Thanks. Gratitude is not only about saying thank you for what is received. Practice giving thanks by delivering sweet treats or handmade cards to local emergency services agencies or coaches who volunteer their time.
● Recognize The Less Fortunate. Being grateful for what we receive and what we have comes from an understanding that there are others who are less fortunate. In an age appropriate way, talk about the great fortune we have for the abundance in our lives.
● Take Action. Whether it is a lemonade stand or bake sale for fundraising or donating funds collected for a charity walk, children learn through doing.
● End On A Positive Note. At the end of each day, share at least one thing each of you is grateful for. On not so good days, this helps to build a greater sense of thankfulness and appreciation for the good in our lives.
● We Are All Unique. There is not one acceptable way to express gratitude. Support the differences in each member of your household. Whether it be a hug, a drawing, a smile, an act of kindness or a verbal thank you, they are still outward expressions of gratitude.
Gratitude is an important positive emotion to nurture. Taking time to reflect on and appreciate what we have is good for our bodies, minds and souls. Feeling and expressing gratitude is not something we are born knowing. It is a life skill we are taught which we then teach our children.