5 Ways to Teach Children Gratitude
There’s nothing more powerful in changing our lives than having an attitude of gratitude. But in today’s society, it is SOOOO easy to get overwhelmed with wants, efficiency, and discontent. I love November because of Thanksgiving, but if you are like me, I don’t want November to be the only month my kids show thankfulness. You too?
So here are 5 simple ways you can teach your children how to have a heart of thankfulness. I mean, after all, those who are more thankful and content have an overall more satisfied and happier life (there’s tons of research out regarding how it affects so many areas of life like self-esteem, optimism, etc. Go check it out!)… And isn’t that what we want most for our children?
This one is SO simple and something I try to practice myself. Each day as I tuck my ids away to bed (or even periodically throughout the day), I’ll ask them to name something they are thankful for. Some of the answers are TO DIE FOR cute. Seriously! I think my son is thankful for garbage trucks nearly every day 😉
This past year we’ve been attempting to make major changes in our clutter around the house. As a part of that, we’ve all given away a TON of stuff (Checkout my Clean in 15 if you want to ditch clutter). We encouraged the kids to choose one thing to give away each day. I was actually amazed at how little resistance we experienced from them. They were actually very excited to give to others.
Turn around the No
It’s sometimes so hard to go into a store with my kids because I feel like I get bombarded with the “I need this” or “will you buy me this” questions. I hate using the word no and try to use it sparingly but geesh….shopping can be downright exhausting. A huge focus for us this year is to eliminate ‘stuff’ so that we have more time and space to focus on our relationships. So now, instead of just saying no I remind them of why we are saying no…. so that we have more time and money to spend on things we all enjoy like vacation, trips to the zoo, or Disneyland. The no to the impulse buy becomes now something they are excited about and willingly put the item back on the shelf. Kids crave relationship. And while they would love the latest and greatest toy, they more desire YOU.
Encourage them to Serve Others
I grew up serving people who were homeless or living on the streets and I cannot say enough about how it shaped my view of the world, gratitude, politics, and so much more. Last year our family took coffee and breakfast to people who were homeless the day after Christmas. It was an AMAZING experience for them. But in this stage of life, I just don’t feel it’s practical for us to do on a regular and ongoing basis. So we’ve found other ways to serve. We’ve connected with an amazing organization called Safe Families. It’s given us the opportunity to bring children into our home, love them, and serve them. My kids then have hands on real life, tangible exposure to serving those in need. There are so many ways for families to serve together, whether it be as simple as picking up trash, serving food in a homeless shelter, giving gifts for Operation Christmas Child and others.
Please and Thank You’s
There is some thing so fundamental in manners that can have profound impacts on gratitude. But rather than forcing your kids to say them just out of formality, make them meaningful (this is similar to why I never force my kids to say sorry). When saying something is forced, it loses its value and meaning. A gentle reminder such as “did you say thank you when Maya gave you a flower” reminds kids that even simple actions are something to be grateful for. Just the same, encouraging them to write thank you notes reminds them of how many things in our lives we have to be thankful for.
Do you have any fun ways you teach gratefulness? I’m going to share some of my favorites in the next month and would love to highlight yours! Drop them below