“Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” Zig Ziglar
Many children of today struggle with appreciation. Children get easily excited and stimulated, most children seem to want, want, want. This is not only extremely frustrating for parents but also interferes with a child’s ability to cope when things don’t go his or her way. Why are children becoming more entitled and less grateful? Perhaps, it’s because children are growing up without really knowing what gratitude is?
Benefits of Gratitude
Gratefulness or Gratitude has many scientifically proven benefits such as better sleep, less depression, less stress, better ability to cope with stress and an improved sense of social relationships and happiness. Gratitude also enhances empathy and improves self-esteem. Those who are raised knowing how to feel and express a sense of gratitude grow up to be well-rounded individuals. In fact, these benefits of gratitude serve as a tremendous motivation to instill gratitude in your children.
Gratitude starts at home and we need to realize that appreciation needs to be taught. It is very important to show and practice gratitude in our lives. As parents, teachers, caregivers who work with children, it is critical to teach children the meaning of gratitude from a young age.
So, how can we instill the value of gratitude into our children? Is gratitude an attitude you are promoting in your children? Here are some practical ways to do just that:
8 Practical ways to teach children Gratitude
- Model and teach gratitude. Engage in random acts of kindness – Allow children to see you modeling being helpful and kind to others in small or big ways. Children imitate our behavior. Noticing and participating in acts of kindness as a family allows for more bonding and positive experiences.
- Practice mindfulness and reflection – Make some time daily to reflect on the “highs” and “lows” of the day. Sharing their own joys and challenges opens up the lines of communication and encourages children to reflect and share as well. Thinking about the day and consciously focusing on big and small things that went well encourages gratitude from a young age.
- Volunteer for Community Service – Involve children in community service. Gather food for a food bank or serve meals at a homeless shelter. Service to others teaches gratitude in ways that nothing else can.
- Donate – Donating helps children understand how fortunate they are and everything they have to be grateful for, be it a home, clothes, toys or a loving family. Encourage your children to donate their outgrown clothes or toys to families and children who have less. Involve children in the process of researching the available donation centers or charities in your area and while making the donation.
- Teach them to love nature. Appreciating the beauty that exists around us allows us an opportunity to be grateful.
- Books on Gratitude – Books are a perfect opportunity for exploring themes of gratitude and thankfulness! Reading to your children from a young age, as well as helping them learn to read for pleasure, heaps lifelong rewards.
- Gratitude Activities – Make, Do and Play activities to help children learn gratitude
- Help your children develop gratitude by keeping a Gratitude Journal.
Gratitude isn’t a lesson to be taught and forgot. Gratitude is something that you practice each and every day through your thoughts, words, and actions! Teaching gratitude will help your children grow up to be well-rounded, empathic and caring adults. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, caregiver, educator, or someone working with children, know that you are making a difference by helping children cultivate gratitude!