Kids are naturally materialistic, especially around this time of the year, but rest assured parents, gratitude can be reinforced in a number of ways!. Teaching our kids to say thank you is important and a good first step but gratitude goes beyond good manners – it’s a mindset and one that will cultivate a happier and more optimistic child. Studies have shown that grateful children grow into grateful young adolescents who are more satisfied in their lives, engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, have higher grades, are less envious, less depressed and able to give more emotional support to others.
So knowing all of this, the question is how can you foster an attitude of gratitude? Here are our top five tips.
Find the Good
Talk about the best parts of your day. Find some time each day to ask, “What was the best part of your day?” Talk about the positive aspects of your day with each while driving to and from school, at the dinner table or right before bed. If you have older children, you can start gratitude journals where you write down 3-5 things you are grateful for every day. By talking about the positive aspects of your day you’re helping your child choose their attitude, which is an all-day effort to constantly turn around bad moods into good.
Say Thank You. Teach young children to say thank you as part of a full sentence, encourage school aged children to say thank you throughout the day, especially when you’re getting them ready or driving them to and from. Have them thank coaches, teachers, and tutors. Model for your children by saying Please and Thank you to them and to others throughout the day.
Hard Work Pays Off
Make time for chores. Yes, our children are busy with school, homework, extracurricular activities, sports, dance, music, the list goes on and on but finding times for chores teaches them what it takes to run a household. Otherwise, they will take a clean house, clean laundry and food for granted. Find age-appropriate chores for your children, even if they just help for 5-15 minutes before bedtime or with dinner. Consider leaving time-intensive chores for the weekend, such as yard work, bathroom cleaning, and linen changing.
Give Experiences, Not Things
Too many toys? How about giving them a membership to a favorite museum, soccer camp registration, music lessons or some other experience they would love and cherish for the rest of the year. Experience gifts build relationships, especially if you gift something the whole family can do together, not materialism.
It’s great for kids to participate in food collections or other community charity projects, but these events are usually one and done and you rarely meet the people you are serving. Find someone in your everyday life that your children can serve regularly. For example, do you have a neighbor that lives alone and would appreciate dinners once a month? Ask them to dinner and have your children help plan the menu, or have them bake cookies or casseroles and deliver them to the neighbors or friends.
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