How to teach children to be grateful; The benefits of gratitude are numerous. When children and young people start to appreciate what they have, rather than focusing on what they would like to have, a new mental pattern is born that positively affects many areas of life.
So, grateful people have higher levels of happiness and optimism, are more optimistic, have more energy, and even sleep better.
The Art of Appreciation – How to Teach Gratitude to a Child
You sincerely want the child to be genuinely grateful for what he has. So, how to teach gratitude in everyday practice?
1 – Talk to the Child About Gratitude
To make this simple, talk regularly to your daughter or son about the best things that happened in your day. So, and it doesn’t have to be anything grand. The idea is to show the value of the little good things in everyday life.
Encourage the child to do the same, ask daily, “What was the best part of your day today?” Find some time each week to talk about what you are grateful for, and encourage her to do the same.
2 – Be a Grateful Mother/Father
An invaluable exercise is telling our children how grateful we are to have them, that they are our most significant reason for gratitude!
Whenever they do anything that gives us a coherent opportunity, we should say how much we love them and that we’re grateful beyond words for their love, smiles, good behavior, happiness, and so much more.
When we tell a child what makes him so unique to us, we’re boosting his self-esteem for the right reasons; (not because he has the latest smartphone or because he’s so dressed up).
This example of ours shows that gratitude extends far beyond material things.
3 – Lead by Example
The true virtues and values that our children bring to life are what they saw us doing, which they learned by doing. Thus, there are countless opportunities to teach gratitude in everyday life. For example, thanking a waiter in a restaurant, a cashier in a supermarket, and the doorman who opened the door.
When our children see us expressing sincere thanks all the time, they are more inclined to do the same. Therefore, encourage the children to say “thank you” as part of a complete sentence, for example, “Thanks, Mom, for making dinner.”
In addition, encourage children, especially school-age children, to thank you whenever someone does something for them.
4 – Five Daily Thanks for a Week
For a week, tell your child that you will play a game; at the end of every day, you will tell him 5 things you are grateful for, and he will have to do the same.
In a study at Hofstra University in the US on gratitude with teenagers, 221 sixth; and seventh graders had to write down five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks.
In the third week, these students were interviewed and demonstrated a better insight into school and family and greater satisfaction with life than young people who spent the same two weeks making a daily list of five hassles.
5 – Play with Games that Teach Gratitude
Games are a powerful tool to teach social-emotional skills and virtues to children and youth. For example, a straightforward game that my kids love: any time of the day, I suddenly look at them and say smiling, with eyes full of interest, “The Best Thing!!”
Then they know they have to answer me as soon as possible what was the best thing that happened to them in the last 24 hours.
6 – Gift Your Child With Books About Gratitude
Encouraging reading and teaching values simultaneously is a significant boost you can give to your children’s emotional and cognitive intelligence. For example, gratitude children’s books show the importance of simple everyday things and how good it is to be grateful for them.
There are so many beautiful books on gratitude and for all ages. For kids, one of our favorites is Todd Parr’s The Book of Gratitude. The book has a lot of good humor and beautiful drawings.
7 – Take Them To An Environment Where There Is Scarcity
When I was a little girl, at Christmas, my father didn’t just make me and my brothers gather all the clothes; and toys we didn’t use to give away. Instead, he would put the four of us in the car and drive us to orphanages or some church receiving donations in low-income communities.
We spent time in these orphanages or communities, helping to distribute gifts. These experiences taught me a lot. Taking the child to know places where scarcity is present, whether of money or worse, of love, can be an unforgettable and transforming experience.
It could be an orphanage or a shelter. Here you can find a list of orphanages and shelters throughout Brazil. Find one in your city and pay a visit with your children, taking some donations.
Visiting these places opens the eyes and hearts of children; and young people to all they have, which helps build gratitude. A child who sees the reality of an orphanage will immediately place much more value on his parents and his life in general.
According to studies, gratitude is best understood and cultivated in conditions of scarcity.
8 – Encourage Generosity, Encourage Your Children to Give
So, the old saying “It’s better to give than to receive” is famous for a reason. So please encourage them to donate, whether it’s material things or something better yet: their time.
Encourage generosity in your child, especially encourage teens to do some volunteer work. When children and young people give their time and energy to help others, they come to appreciate all the good in life much more.
9 – Create a New Habit in Your Home: The Moment of Gratitude
Make a new habit in your home: Sit with your family for the Moment of Gratitude before lunch on the last Sunday of every month.
At this point, each family member should list and share everything that happened in the month that they were grateful for. Children can even have a notebook where they can write down their gratitude during the month.
The list might include a new friend you’ve made, a compliment you’ve received, a good grade on a test, whatever. This monthly tradition is a powerful tool to help develop a positive mood in your family.
You can even play a game: whoever has more moments of gratitude or an extraordinary moment and touched everyone wins the Medal of the Week! The medal can be symbolic. It’s just an idea that you can develop.
You will soon feel that when everyone begins to see and value the good in their lives, it results in a rapid and significant change in attitude.
From time to time, invite relatives or friends to participate in the Moment of Gratitude. This way, you will give your children a chance for others who also value gratitude to share their experiences with them.
Try to make this a ritual, and you will see how your children will become more grateful and positive in their daily lives.
10 – Teach the Child to Treat Everyone With Respect and Dignity
So, when we teach our children to treat others with dignity and respect. They appreciate how they contribute and improve their lives. In addition, learning about respect and dignity will make them less likely to feel that people serve them out of some obligation.
Sometimes we emphasize showing respect for bosses, spiritual leaders, and other high-profile people while forgetting to extend courtesy to others, especially employees.
We need to show our children the importance of treating everyone with respect. If we want to be respected, we need to respect. If we are grateful to someone who has done something for us, that person will also be thankful for our recognition.
So, it is crucial for us as parents to show our children the importance of treating all people with respect and giving them the value they deserve. But, unfortunately, disrespectful people don’t know how to be grateful.
11 – Gratitude Cards
Remember the Moment of Gratitude? So, then, in the last week of every month, use this time to produce Gratitude Cards. Each person should choose only one person per month, and write him a card thanking him for something.
You can buy postcards or cards at a store. But the best thing is to purchase cardstock so that everyone can create their card; make drawings, or print and paste photos. Unfortunately, sending handwritten letters and cards is an art that is disappearing. But this is a perfect way to encourage kids to express gratitude – and as a bonus, make the recipient’s day!
Encouraging children to write a thank you card for someone once a month is a beautiful way to exercise gratitude and love. The recipient can be grandma, grandpa, an uncle or aunt, cousins, a friend, the teacher. Imagine the joy of that person receiving such a card! But, unfortunately, nowadays, we only receive bills by mail!
Of course, this person will express immense gratitude in return for the child. But, unfortunately, gratitude is a two-way path.
12 – Resist the Desire to Give the Child Too Much
Moderation is a beneficial concept here. First, of course, we want to give our kids the best, things that will make them happy. But if this is done excessively, it will make them ungrateful and spoiled.
We have to keep this in mind; buying children and teenagers whatever they want, whenever they want, dilutes the impulse of gratitude. And that will certainly not allow them to learn to value or respect their possessions.
The child ends up having so many things that not only does he not appreciate something new, but he keeps his attention fixed on a new, newer, and more expensive object. It’s almost an addiction.
Therefore, never give your child everything he demands. Just the fact that he is somehow demanding already shows the error of the situation. Instead, start giving less stuff, and at the same time encourage him to feel grateful for the items he already has.
13 – Encourage Your Child to Save to Participate Financially in Buying Something He Wants
If you want to raise a grateful child, he needs to learn to value every gift, every penny he earns from you. So, an excellent way to do this is to make him financially participate in purchasing something he wants. This will teach patience and courage.
Encourage him to save his money and use it wisely. Encourage him to value money and understand that money is a tool, not a commodity when children focus on keeping to buy something. Instead, they gain a fundamental understanding of the value of money and what they want.
This will encourage children to appreciate more of what they have and give them a more realistic view of what you and others are doing for them.
14 – Give Experiential Gifts Instead of Material Objects
Your child’s birthday is coming up, and he already has too many toys, too many clothes? How about giving a unique gift that builds experiences and relationships rather than material possessions?
Consider giving something like a weekend camp program as a gift. Experiences like these are transformative, especially for the child or teenager who receives everything in hand and needs to develop self-confidence and independence.
15 – Involve the Child in Some Housework
So, it happens to all of us: you give your child a chore, but it’s just too unbearable to see him a) take forever to clear the table or b) make a huge mess mixing the batter for the pancake. The temptation is always to intervene rather than let him do it alone. But the more you do for him, the less he appreciates your efforts.
Therefore, children will realize how much effort these things require by participating in simple housework, such as feeding the dog, washing the dishes, or taking out the garbage. Without participating in household chores, children cannot understand what it takes to run a household. They find that clean clothes and food fall from the sky through their hands.
Giving your children age-appropriate household chores, even just 5 to 10 minutes a day, will increase gratitude for everything you do and your responsibility.
16 – Avoid Complaining in Front of the Child, and Explain Early on that Complaining is Life Delay
Successful, high performers know that constant complaining is a dangerous and toxic habit. That the time you waste complaining, you should be looking for solutions. Complaining only reinforces and strengthens the negative attitude.
It’s human nature to see the glass half empty now and then, and we all complain sometimes. But the attitude of gratitude is always trying to reverse that perspective and see the glass half full. Complaining can be tempting, but deep down inside, when we complain too much, we’re just slowly sinking into self-pity and victimization.
As parents, we need to remember that it is more productive to teach our children to be resilient; and determined and helped them see and deal with problems from a different, more positive, and prolific perspective. So, imagine how different life would be if we all adopted that attitude, complained less, and passed that attitude on to our children!
17 – Teach Children About Past Difficulties
To build gratitude in your children, tell stories of what life was like 150 years ago when homes had neither electricity nor running water. Imagine with them what the daily life of these people was like without these luxuries. Which nowadays is so typical for us!
Tell the children how people went hungry and lost their homes during wars. Well, unfortunately, this is still happening in the world. So introduce them to this reality.
If your child sincerely feels blessed and grateful to have family love, a house, and a bed, food on the table, and running water for a hot bath. They already understand gratitude and the essential things in life!