article

The 1-2-3’s of Raising a Grateful Child in Today’s World

Raising kids is no easy task. So, the key to raising grateful children? Here's what I've learned to be the best way to help your kiddos learn how to be appreciative.
Photo by LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com


author

As parents and guardians, we want to provide our children with everything humanly possible… and then some. In short, we want to give our kids the world. However, giving our children the world presents the challenge of raising a potentially spoiled or selfish person. Nevertheless, there are ways to provide in abundance while simultaneously teaching the valuable notion that quantity is not of importance, but the quality behind the thought itself is what truly matters. There are several ways to raise a grateful child, even within our current culture which happens to be inundated with the want for electronics, material possessions and trendy toys.

Two holiday seasons ago, I remember gifting a family member with a rather nice, new iPod. I thought, “Wow, he is going to love this! What eight-year-old wouldn’t want an iPod?!” Upon gifting him with my special surprise, he replied, “Well, I really wanted new headphones…”

An attitude of gratitude, especially when cultivated early in life, can help foster positive relationships and establish an optimistic outlook well into the future.

Admittedly, my heart was crushed and anger started to creep in. But I quickly realized his self-entitled attitude was a clear indication that I needed to do a better job of helping him understand that gifts are thoughtful gestures, and we do not always receive everything we ask for or want. The truth is, children under a certain age face challenges and a lack of experience when processing others’ feelings. Parents, however, can enthusiastically and consistently instill a sense of gratitude in their children.

A thankful attitude helps us flourish, mentally and emotionally.

An attitude of gratitude, especially when cultivated early in life, can help foster positive relationships and establish an optimistic outlook well into the future.

Teaching the words “thank you” and instilling this specific, appreciative vocabulary, demonstrates both manners and a lasting practice of expressing gratitude. From as early as one year old, children begin to understand concepts of sharing, receiving and giving; therefore, continually reinforcing “thank you” is of the utmost importance. If your child veers to the shy side in terms of conversation, consciously be the example your child can mirror when they muster up the confidence to lovingly show appreciation. For example, thank your partner for lending a hand with cleaning up the kitchen: “Thank you so much for helping me put the dishes away. I really appreciate it!”

The more your child sees and hears acts of gratitude, the more likely they will be to mimic and repeat.

Mom-and-child.

Photo by LightField Studios/Shutterstock.com

Another way to encourage your child to embody and exhibit an attitude of thankfulness is to create an at-home tradition focusing on expressing appreciation. After school, during dinner or before bed, ask your child, “What are you grateful for today?” This simple, regularly asked question will prompt your child to think about their blessings, be thankful and share these thoughts with you, too. If your child is stumped on what to say, provide examples that their young mind may not think of. For example, “Today, I am grateful for the food on our plates and the roof over our heads. I’m grateful we have a place to keep us dry, especially while it rains outside!” If you lead the way and share blessings that a young child may not realize are luxuries, you are molding your child to be aware of how truly fortunate they really are, whether the blessing is big or small, tangible or unseen.

On your quest to instill gratitude in your child, remain patient. Showing appreciation does not happen overnight. However, be conscious and deliberate about setting a great example. Guide, gently, to teach your child that showing appreciation is more than having good manners. Showing appreciation is a way of life. In turn, your child will become a much happier, more passionate and understanding human being—people who we certainly need more of in this world.

“Thank you” for taking the time to read!