7 Secrets to Raising Grateful Children
Beyond teaching your kids how to say “please” and “thank you,” you might be wondering what else you can do to raise them right. Raising them with a grateful heart and appreciation can start in their early years and will pave the way for success in their adult years.
Your children will benefit now and always when you teach them how to be grateful. It’s good for both mental and physical health. Children that are grateful are happier and more optimistic overall. They sleep better, have less stress, and are able to cope with what life throws at them.
Grateful kids are less aggressive and have more confidence in themselves. They also have greater resilience in the face of adversity, meaning they will bounce back quickly whenever disappointment rolls their way. Gratitude is a gift you can teach your kids starting right now. There are 7 secrets to ensuring they capture this life lesson and use it always.
1. Be the example
Children want to be just like their parents and they’ll show it by copying what you do. If you want your children to be grateful, show them in your shining example. Be gracious to those you encounter in front of your children. Thanking your server when you go out for dinner or the person holding the door for you as you walk in are some very simple things you can do to show gratitude and have your kids practice it.
Another way is in remembering to thank your kids when they take care of chores around the house. Be sure to thank them for their help and they will get the message on how to express gratitude.
2. Call attention to moments of generosity
When people do what is beyond the call of duty, it’s a sign of generosity. That extra thoughtfulness people put forth, be it from strangers, other family members, friends, or even your own kids needs to be praised. You’re much more likely to get a repeat performance of this wonderful behavior from your kids if you lavish them with praise.
3. Show them how to say “thanks” in different ways
Saying “thank you” is good manners, but there are plenty of other ways your child can learn to express gratitude. Among them, writing thank you notes is a treasured skill every child should learn. Not only is it proper manners, but it also will help them once they’re on their own looking for work.
Start by showing your child how to write a thank you card to Grandma or Grandpa for their gifts. If they’re too small to write, have them help by making a picture. Once they’re old enough, they’ll be able to take it from there.
4. Give them perspective on the world
Maybe your children can’t get everything they want right when they want it, but there are many people out there that have far less. Teaching your children to be grateful for the little things they have will make them more grateful overall. It will also encourage them to be kind and compassionate to others and help out when they can.
5. Find ways to help others together
Volunteering together as a family can help though if your kids are still young, you can also try bagging up old clothes and toys and taking them to a charity in your area to help those in need. Your child can also raise money to help out a charity that feels important to them. When they see how they have helped someone else, their hearts will be full.
6. Let your child have a choice
Forcing your children to do fundraising isn’t ideal. Instead, you want them to feel encouraged and empowered to make that choice. Perhaps getting involved with their sports team or class can get even more kids into giving back and taking an interest with a grateful heart. It could be participating in a bake sale, washing cars, or any other activity to raise money for others. It could be all about giving their time. Letting them choose how to do it is important since there are so many ways to make a difference.
7. Be open to the many ways gratitude can be expressed
Aside from having good manners, expressing gratitude can come in many forms. Some children are natural-born huggers while others are more artistic. Let them express their gratitude in the ways that feel the most genuine and comfortable to them. And no, a hug-giving child won’t grow up to hug every person in the interview room when they’re applying for a job years down the road. Let them be individualistic about their expressions.
Don’t forget that gratitude can be something you share together. Each night as you say goodnight to your children and pull those covers up to their little chins, ask your kids to tell you something they’re grateful for. This will end each day in a positive way and encourage your children to see past the many potholes life is full of while embracing the good things all around.