Countless studies have proven that individuals who practice and embrace a state of gratitude are happier and have a higher quality of life. Therefore, teaching your children the importance of thankfulness and appreciation at an early age can support them in living a fulfilling life.
In a world where everything seems to be about socializing on the Internet rather than fostering meaningful relationships or engaging in fulfilling real-life experiences, you may be wondering where to start when it comes to practicing gratitude with your children. We’ve rounded up a list of six simple ways that you can help foster thankfulness in your family.
6 Ways to Practice Thankfulness with Kids
Lead by Example
Children watch their parents more closely than one might assume. Parents are role models for children, so it’s important that you lead by example when it comes to practicing gratitude so you can pass this down to your children. Remember to say thank you, show appreciation in special moments, express gratitude for meals and quality time, and treat others with kindness and respect.
Discover your Kiddos’ Strengths
Every child has unique strengths, and once you discover your child’s strengths, you can encourage them to utilize those to help others in their lives when the opportunity presents itself. This teaches your kids the importance of helping others and how rewarding giving back can feel.
Daily Gratitude Practice
Help your kids implement and maintain a daily gratitude practice. This can be anything from asking your kids each day what they're grateful for or having them write down five things they appreciate each night before bed. Feel free to get as creative as you want — we especially love this Gratitude Tree with writable leaves — but the more critical piece is to make this practice a daily routine so that it practicing thankfulness becomes a habit.
Encourage Kids to Express Gratitude to Others
Your children will receive gifts and other acts of kindness from family members and friends. Teach your children how to send thank you cards, make thank you phone calls, or thank individuals in person.
Teach the Importance of Compassion
When children develop compassion for others, they will also develop a sense of compassion for themselves. Speak to your children about their interactions with others, especially the negative ones. We’ve all heard or used the familiar phrase, “put yourselves in their shoes,” but this statement is common for a good reason. When your kiddos can
analyze and understand the other person’s situation and develop compassion or empathy rather than frustration or anger, it will lead to stronger relationships with others and themselves throughout life.
Show Them What it Means to ‘Earn’ Something
Our children live in the age of instant gratification, mainly due to the Internet. When kiddos want something, they usually get it pretty quickly without putting much effort into it. As a parent, you should help them identify the difference between something they ‘want’ and something they ‘need.’ If it’s something they want, you can have them earn it through doing extra chores, saving up their allowance, or other activities that will help them understand the importance of earning something they want rather than getting it without effort. This is an important lesson for children to learn at an early age to prepare them for the real world, where there are no hand-outs.
Embracing gratitude isn’t just about having your children show respect and kindness to others; it’s about developing a positive way of life that supports their mental and physical health, their level of happiness, and their overall well-being throughout their lifetimes.