Contributor: Bob Tom
Life is not fair, and sometimes it’s up to us parents to bring up a child who will be able to appreciate the little, and big things, that life has to offer. Most parents strive to teach their children to be grateful for the small and big things in their lives. True gratitude can be instilled through small principles.
Gratitude is having an appreciation for everything you have been blessed with and acknowledging that these small gifts are a blessing, regardless.According to research, when gratitude is instilled in the early ages of our children’s lives it leads to happier lives. This happiness shows at school, at home, and in the relationships they build with their loved ones, as well as their friends.
When a child is taught to be grateful from an early age, this positive characteristic is portrayed even in their adolescence and adulthood. Many people who were not raised to be thankful from a tender age tend to struggle with the concept, especially when they reach adulthood. So, how can you teach children to be appreciative of all things in their lives – big or small?
Teach by Action
One of the simplest ways to teach your child to be grateful is by exercising the same concept yourself. Children, from an early age, tend to mold their behaviors based on how they see grownups behaving. “Grownup” here means parents, relatives, teachers, and any other adult that your child has constant interactions with.
Have you ever heard the term “practice what you preach?” This is one of those occasions where it’s advisable to show your little ones that you not only expect them to exercise this act, but you are willing to do the same.
Raising children requires patience, kindness, compassion, responsibility, and the list goes on. When we practice this, our kids absorb it. Leading by example is the finest and hardest lesson in raising good people. Giving one’s self to a higher purpose, such as teaching gratitude, is one of the best things we can do for our little ones when they are at a tender and impressionable age.
A simple way to achieve this is by introducing a family routine where everyone sits down on a daily basis and says what they are thankful for, regardless of how small. This will eventually set the wheels in motion and hopefully, show your children that there is much in this world to always be appreciative of.
There is no better way to teach your kids about love than by caring for those around you. Being generous with what little you have allows your kid to start being considerate of others’ feelings, and not just their own. Encourage your young one to share with the less fortunate or their friends. Instead of always considering what they would want for Christmas, why not encourage them to also think of other presents they would like to give to the people they love?
We all want to give our kids everything they want, but sometimes buying everything for them can cause more harm than good. You need to teach them to value what they receive without expecting more. If your child winds up having as many toys as they please, they will not appreciate their possessions. They will always want something shinier and newer because they have been brought up with the notion that all they need to do is point and it’s theirs.
Depending on their age, your young one can start giving back to the community. Make helping a community part of your family activity. Start volunteering at a nursing home, at homeless shelters, etc. When your children start interacting with those who are less fortunate, those with health problems, they will begin to be appreciative of small things such as their health, their family, their home, which they would have otherwise taken for granted.
Another lovely tradition to introduce would be encouraging your children to donate their old toys to charity. Perhaps instill a “one in, one out” policy where, if they are to get a new toy, then they’ll have to part with an old one. Children tend to form tight bonds with their toys so that this lesson can be very educational for them.
Instead of just donating these old toys to charity via mail, why not take your child with you to a charity home where they will be able to see first-hand the joys their old toys bring to a less fortunate child? This lesson will not only teach gratitude but compassion as well.
Let Them Work for It
You need your kin to understand that things don’t just magically appear when they want them. An excellent way to instill this is by letting them earn their rewards. Start distributing simple chores for their allowance.
Teach them to save up for what they want and only then can they buy it – this will educate them about money and its value. It’ll also enable them to care for their possessions and appreciate what they have. This lesson will also allow them to get a realistic perspective on what their parents do them.
Encourage “Thank-You” Notes
Sending handwritten ‘thank-you’ notes is a dying profession and one that we think children should be encouraged to participate in. When your kid receives gifts, parents should help them to send out thank-you notes to every single person who bought them a present.
This doesn’t only have to be practiced when gifts are involved. Encourage them to give thanks to their teachers, their pediatricians, family members, etc. – there are tons of opportunities for your child to recognize a kind gesture and be thankful for it. If they start young, this habit will become a part of them as they transition into adulthood.
The Glass is Always Half Full
It’s human nature sometimes to view the world in a negative perspective. Many of us complain and despair about small matters (this is very normal), but it can be helpful if, as a parent, you could perhaps try and always find a silver lining. Teach your child/children to find something positive in every circumstance.
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