Although I won’t tell you what I bought ( she reads my blogs!), I will say my arms were full! The two women ahead of me in line were engaged in an animated conversation questioning whether they should be buying their grandkids one of the cute turkeys that adorned the cash register counter. While one scooped one up, the other put hers back stating, “My grandkids never say thank you - no matter what I send - so why bother”. Yikes!
Kids need to be taught gratitude. And gratitude is so much more than just saying the words thank you. When taught and modeled correctly, the expression of gratitude should become a natural way of life for your family. When we express gratitude, we are recognizing that something good has happened and this action just may spark a bit of happiness in our kids! A study out of UC Davis says that “cultivating gratitude can increase happiness by 25%”. End result, life in general appears better.
Want your children to have better relationships, stronger self-esteem and a true appreciation for all that they have? Teach them, show them, model for them how to be grateful.
Model Appreciation. Make a point of thanking your children when they do something worthy of it. It doesn’t have to be humongous. Even a toddler feels better about themselves when mom or dad thank them for picking up their toys. And don’t be too busy to attach a sticky to a lunchbox to thank your child for finishing their homework last night - without being asked!
Point out opportunities in life where you can thank others. A quick nod of gratitude to the postman like, “Thank you for bringing our mail today” or to the Girl Scout leader like, “ I really appreciate you taking over our troop” tells your kids that you, yourself are grateful.
Capture A Moment To Be Thankful For. Perhaps it is an especially beautiful day outside or you can hear the rain peacefully beating on your kitchen window. Maybe you catch site of a nest of hatchlings or see a peacock strutting his colorful feathers. Each of these sites can bring beauty and peace into your life and can be things for which you are grateful for. I often express gratitude that I was able to actually “see” what others may not be physically able to. When your children see and hear you expressing gratitude, it will become a far more natural thing for them to do.
Dinner Delights. Use the dinner time to capture a moment or two to express gratitude and make sure that your kids share too! Even if they are expressing gratitude that their teacher didn’t give them homework tonight or that they made it home before the rain started - these are things to be recognized as being good and providing peace or happiness - and maybe even a little humor!
Let Your Children See You Doing Acts Of Gratitude. Whether sending flowers, taking over cookies or simply writing a thank you note - you are making important teaching memories for your kids. Share with your children why you are doing these acts. And please, if someone took the time to do something nice for you or your kids - take the time to write and send a note. Not an e-mail - a handwritten note- recognizes the time that someone else spent on you and that it made a difference for you. You are not only sending gratitude - you are sending a little bit of happiness to the recipient!
Help Your Kids To Recognize The Joy Of Giving. Every year my mother sent a check to a mission in Los Angeles that gives out turkey dinners to the homeless. Since my mom’s passing I realized that I needed to take this over. I find great joy in just writing the check and am so grateful to my mom for showing me how to make the holiday special for those in need. It took the example of my mother to open this door. Take a moment to think about what “giving” doors you might open for your own child.
Teach Your Children How To Accept Gratitude. You’re welcome. Two simple words. Teach your kids to say them rather than okay, no problem. uh-huh. If your child has done something nice for someone else and that individual is expressing gratitude, teach your children to look the other person in the eye, say you are welcome and feel good about what they did!
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