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To raise grateful children you must first teach them gratitude! Teach them to appreciate every little thing they have. Show them how to appreciate the world around them. Many children have so many opportunities to express their gratitude each day. If they learn to appreciate all the little things in life, they will be able to appreciate the bigger things even more! Showing gratitude is a state of mind that creates a positive mindset.
What are some things you can encourage grateful children?
The obvious ones: Love, food, water, shelter, power, the internet.. But what about the not so obvious ones, the ones you have to look a little deeper for. We talk about: Our piano, our computers and video games, our entertainment. The refrigerator and freezer working, the washer and dryer cleaning our clothes. The heat in the winter. Our extended family, our friends and our animals. Gas in the car, and really just having a good vehicle. We talk a lot about our health and well-being.Our ability to run, jump and play.
Take the lead and show your kids when you are thankful for something. Say it aloud so they can hear it. When something makes you feel good inside, let them know! This is all around good for the whole family actually. When your kids hear you affirm that positive is happening around you, they feel it too. They start to look for things to be happy about. Encourage them to talk about it and to tell you how they feel!
How do you teach your children to be thankful?
When you are driving in your car, what do you talk about? It is a perfect time to talk about the things to be thankful for. You can lead by example and start talking about things you appreciate. Maybe you notice the car has a full tank of gas because your husband filled it for you, tell the kids about it and show your excitement to the thoughtful and kind gesture. Tell them about how much easier it makes things for you with not having to stop and get gas on your way to the destination.
Think about meal times. Do you spend time together while you are eating? I know a lot of families eat on the go or all eat at different times. But, perhaps there is one night a week you can all sit at the dinner table together. A great way to get the kids involved is to lead by example. We often eat at the table, in fact it is rare if we don’t all eat together. Our family makes a point of eating dinner together as often as possible. We do a majority of our talking while eating and we often take turns asking each other questions.
Think about all the down moments you have with your kids. Waiting in line is a big one! We seem to be waiting around a lot, but for short periods of time. These are good moments to talk about positive things. One of my favorite things is talking about how nice it is to use our patience while waiting in line. I love to engage the kids in a conversation about how the only way to perfect patience is to practice using it, These conversations are fun and light-hearted but they usually get a good laugh from any neighboring line waiters. It is a simple moment, but it is not me impatiently tapping my foot and rolling my eyes. My kids see that, they see they need to slow down and wait and they see it as a good thing (most of the time).
Sometimes it can be tough to get your whole family talking about positive things. We have found that asking questions is a good way to get things moving along.
Some topics we use to inspire grateful thinking in our kids:
“What was the kindest thing someone did in your class today, for you or for anyone else?” “Tell me about the best thing that happened to you at school.” “What made you feel happy while you were at practice” “What was the nicest thing someone said to you today?” “What is the kindest thing you did for someone else today?” “Tell me about your favorite moment this week.” “What are you most looking forward to tomorrow?”
If you create the environment they tend to follow suit. I know when these questions are going around, we all answer. It goes around the table and we all get to feel joy for each other. These conversations are second nature to our family. But, at first it was a little awkward to get used to. As parents, we have learned how many questions our kids can tolerate and also how many we can handle.
It is so good to teach your kids to be appreciative and show them how to say Thank you! In our house, we use our manners. From the youngest age, we teach eye contact when you are thanking a person for something. Showing respect and being sincere in your appreciation is just as important as the words themselves. My kids here me say thank you so many times in a day, I don’t even think I could count if I tried. They also learn about the other side. We point out to them when another does not use their manners, so they can see both perspectives. We have found that the kids prefer the kindness and seem to gravitate towards it now.
Ultimately, your kids learn by your example. They learn through your behavior much more than by your words. Show them how to live a grateful life, teach them to be thankful and appreciative when the situation calls for it.
There are so many more examples I could come up with and so many more situations. What kids of questions do you ask your kids to incite a grateful lifestyle? What situations can you think of that would make good teaching moments?
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Childmind.org has a great post called 10 Tips for Raising Grateful Kids.