To teach gratitude to your kids, you don’t have to explode past the boundaries of parenting. It’s a byproduct of being a better person. Moreover, it’s a surefire way to infuse joy into your kid’s life.
Industry experts have long agreed that gratitude can make a person happier and healthier—a piece of information published on US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. Moreover, it keeps a person away from self-destructive behaviors. So, how do we foster gratitude in our kids? Let’s dig into the answer.
Table of Contents
- 1. Embracing Scarcity to Cultivate Gratitude
- 2. Encourage the Act of Generosity
- 3. Give Blessings a Name
- 4. Add Details to the List
- 5. Having Realistic Expectations
- 6. Practicing Mindfulness
- 7. The Grind
- 8. Engage Kids in Random Acts of Kindness
- 9. Recite Daily Prayers
- 10. Nature Time
- 11. Work on their Mindset
- 12. Appreciative of People
- 13. Volunteer Age-appropriately
- 14. Learn the Art of saying ‘No’
- 15. Give more Love than Gifts
- 16. Be the Brand Ambassador of Gratitude
1. Embracing Scarcity to Cultivate Gratitude
The life of abundance is great. After all, we all want to give the best of everything to our kids. Don’t we? However, gratitude can be under tight wraps in the face of abundance. Remember, gratitude surfaces only when we take the time to notice and reflect upon it.
Therefore, it helps to take your kids to a place where scarcity dominates daily life. It could be an orphanage or a homeless shelter. Such a visit could prove to be an eye-opener for them. It will make them value the things that they have in their lives, and thereby foster gratitude.
2. Encourage the Act of Generosity
We could make a living out of our earnings, but we will make a life by serving. That’s why they say, you will never get poor by giving. Moreover, one doesn’t have to be rich to be generous because it’s not about how much we give, but how much love goes into the giving.
So, make it a practice to donate clothes and toys to less fortunate kids. When kids catch you in the act, it will inspire them to dig into their closet to find items for giveaway. As they say, ‘Actions speak louder than voice.’ In other words, the act of generosity will surely set the wheels of gratitude in motion.
3. Give Blessings a Name
In an issue of Journal of School Psychology, an experimental study showed that counting blessings in early years of life lead to more contentment at school. Whether it’s a toy, a greeting card, or a music lesson, tracking feelings of thanks sets them up for a positive frame of mind.
What makes this method effective is that they can set their eyes on the gratitude journal at will and wish. So, an old-fashioned kinesthetic experience of writing can foster gratitude like nothing else. Re-reading the journal almost serves as a healing tool that has the potential to shift one’s mood and attitude in a flash and gravitate towards gratefulness.
4. Add Details to the List
What happens when you back your statement with reasoning? All of a sudden, the statement receives new power and demands all the more attention in the world. Such is the power of reasoning. When you are grateful for something, back it up with reasons. As they say, everything is in the detail. The details carry a deeper meaning and they truly imbibe a sense of instant gratification in a person.
So, instead of simply writing, ‘doll’ and moving on to the next item, ask your kids to write down specifically what makes them feel grateful about owning the doll, so that they can completely bask in the glory of gratitude.
5. Having Realistic Expectations
Imagine immediate collapse if you are expecting instant results with your efforts. Just like we don’t attain immediate stardom in real life, don’t expect your kids to turn a new leaf in their lives in a matter of few days or few weeks.
Remember, the act of gratitude is a waste of time and efforts if there are no authentic feelings attached to it. It becomes more like grocery shopping, where you finish the task with no real feeling of appreciation or gratitude whatsoever. So, don’t expect insane results. You kid won’t turn into a gratitude junkie overnight.
6. Practicing Mindfulness
A study published on NCBI on gratitude and mindfulness concluded that gratitude and mindfulness can reduce stress and increase happiness. As a matter of fact, increased gratitude is a positive effect of mindfulness. Taking the time to appreciate our surroundings encourages gratitude.
So, practice mindfulness to help kids appreciate the present, rather than being tied up with the past or future. Mindfulness helps one appreciate the day to day things in life, no matter how small they may be. Therefore, take your kids out for a mindful walk for 5-10 minutes, and let them relax in the beauty of nature while appreciating everything good that falls along the way.
7. The Grind
The young minds are often cluttered with upcoming gadgets, toys, and phones. They literally demand anything and everything under the sun. If we were to easily surrender to their whims, our future selves will never thank us because we could be potentially raising a spoiled brat.
We all know the ruckus a spoiled brat can create. So, teach your kids to work for something they want to purchase. There’s no better feeling of gratification than toiling and sacrificing to attain a desired item. It feels so much better to acquire something the hard way.
8. Engage Kids in Random Acts of Kindness
How glorified do we feel about mankind when we see a WhatsApp or YouTube video about a random act of kindness? Some of these videos leave us with wet eyes. How about getting our kids engaged in random act of kindness as well?
Dedicate some time and serve some homemade sandwiches to homeless people across the streets. Maybe, you can buy them some blankets or umbrella depending upon the season. You can also encourage your kids to put a positive sticky note on their friend’s school bag or ask them to share their toys with them.
9. Recite Daily Prayers
Teaching kids to engage in regular prayer can help them grow up as appreciative adults. Therefore, make it a habit to recite daily prayers, even if you are not the most religious person in the world. Before every meal, recite a collective thank you prayer to God, family members, farmers, and anyone else who has a role in between to bring the food to your table.
Daily prayer would serve as a great reminder of God’s many blessings. Moments of thankfulness makes us feel peaceful and blessed. Whenever possible, get your kids to recount the blessings to express their gratitude.
10. Nature Time
Just like adults, kids need to slow down a little bit and take some time out for themselves. At a slower pace, they are bound to be more mindful and appreciative of the things around them. Remember, nature doesn’t judge anyone. So, it’s best to spend time with Mother Nature to appreciate its beauty and glory.
When Marc G. Berman and his colleagues at the University of Michigan conducted a study of human interaction with nature, they found out that natural sceneries have a restorative effect on our cognitive function. Even a brief interaction with the nature allows us to appreciate the supreme beauty around us.
11. Work on their Mindset
At a tender age, it’s easy to hijack a kid’s mind. Why not use it to our advantage to foster gratitude in them? We all know that there are no World-War related worries today. From missing a bus to the trousers not being a perfect fit, kids are ready to throw in a fit at minor issues.
Yes, we can call this a soft generation. We need to teach our kids to look at the good side of things even when they are in trouble. Tell them there is something good hidden in every bad situation. They just need to look for it.
Let’s say; they return home complaining about how drenched they were from head to toe. Remind them that they at least have a warm house and replacement clothes at their disposal. When they complain about the food, remind them that there are hundreds of thousands of people out there who starve every day.
We are not asking you to be a preacher over here. You might just bore them with your lecture, especially if it’s a long one. The key is to help them recognize the good in the bad situations. Your job is just to help them find the good.
12. Appreciative of People
Expressing feelings towards others through a simple ‘Thank you’ message can really do a world of good for the kids. It’s easier for them to say thank you to their grandpa for the extra pocket money. However, the real challenge lies in spreading the positive words to the people outside their immediate world such as the police officers, military servants, mailman, firefighters, etc.
Also, teach them to say thank you to people who are involved in less glamorous work such as garbage collectors and sewage cleaners. This is where gratitude comes into the picture—being thankful and appreciative of people around us even though we may not have directly benefited from them.
13. Volunteer Age-appropriately
An activity that betters someone’s life need not be a time-consuming or a tiresome affair. Moreover, one doesn’t need boatloads of money over here. A big heart is the only primary requirement over here. Take a look at your kid’s natural interest and find out ways in which your kid can help others in the area of interest.
It could be raising money for an ill child, helping out at a food bank, or protecting a stray dog. Such voluntary act of kindness will not only help others but will offer your kids a priceless gift—‘Gratification.’
14. Learn the Art of saying ‘No’
Least grateful kids can have overwhelming demands. More than often, we are amazed by their headspace for demands. There is no way they will feel grateful when all their demands are met at a moment’s notice. You would end up doing a great disservice to them by nodding positively to all their requests.
In a way, you will hard-wire them for appreciation deficit. Therefore, it’s perfectly okay to say ‘no’ to our kids. Agreed, it’s not easy to say ‘no’ to our kids, but in the end, it helps breed gratitude.
15. Give more Love than Gifts
Let’s admit it; no amount of luxury gifts can replace your presence. Moreover, don’t expect a babysitter on a paycheck to teach your kids the gift of gratitude. After all, this is not textbook coaching. Since every kid is different, there is no pre-defined path to teach gratitude. Kids need your TLC more than anything else in life. So, dump the BS-alarm that keeps repeating that you don’t have time at all.
Remember, life is too short not to spend quality time with our kids. So, ditch the habit of buying new toys, and jump right in with your gift of attention. Kids will appreciate your presence like nothing else.
16. Be the Brand Ambassador of Gratitude
Your desire to imbibe gratitude in your kids starts with you. You are the first line of support for them. Come on! You can’t expect your kids to be grateful if you are not. So, be a magnet of gratitude. Always, put your best foot forward.
By being mindful of your actions and by not missing the opportunities to express gratitude, you will be able to unfold the power of gratitude. It will automatically send out an infectious positive message to their brain. By providing them the light to follow, gratitude will transcend from you to your kids, and possibly change their lives forever!
The Last Mile
They say, seeds of discouragement do not take roots in a heart filled with gratitude. A story published on the Wall Street Journal states that an aptitude for gratitude helps kids secure better grades, and be happier in life. Make no mistake; one doesn’t have to wait for a major meltdown in life to practice gratitude.
Gratitude needs to be the way of life, irrespective of the circumstances. Believe it or not, it will prove to be the most treasured component of your kid’s life. It can have a salutary impact on their lives in the present and down the road as well.