If you ask most parents what quality they want their child to possess, most will say gratitude. We have tips to help teach gratitude to your child!
How to Teach Gratitude to a Child
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November is the traditional month of gratitude and giving thanks. What a perfect time to think of all the things you’re thankful for. As parents, we want to make sure our children are thankful and can live a life of gratitude. Making gratitude an everyday part of your life is a good way to teach it.
Here are some things that can help you teach children gratitude.
How to Teach Gratitude to Toddlers
Teaching our children to have gratitude can begin early. It is never too soon to teach the concept of gratitude.
Toddlers can learn the language of gratitude as young as one year old. Saying thank you is the first step for a toddler. When you give them what they need, encourage them to say thank you. Then follow up with why they should say it.
Just saying the words thank you is not enough. They can be taught why they should be thankful. Toddlers can also learn when to say thank you in social settings. Help them say thank you to the clerk at the grocery store or the waiter at dinner. Again, explain to them why they are thanking these individuals.
Teaching toddlers gratitude is also about expressing your thanks to them. When they pick up their toys, say thank you! Let them know you appreciate it when they clean up after themselves. It makes your job as a mom easier.
Another excellent resource to teach toddlers gratitude is literature. There are so many wonderful books on gratitude that you can read to them. The Giving Tree and Have You Filled a Bucket Today are great examples.
How to Teach Gratitude to Adolescents
The age of adolescence is a time where your child is beginning to learn how to live in society. This is a crucial time to continue the lessons on gratitude.
Always continue to use the language of gratitude, please and thank you goes a long way. At this age, your child can begin to understand the concept of people less fortunate than they are.
Finding opportunities in your community to volunteer and serve can begin now. Many religious and community organizations have several ways you can help out and give back. This can give adolescent children a look into the lives of those less fortunate than they are. This is also a great age to encourage them to give things they no longer use to clothing and toy drives.
By serving others, and giving of what they have, they can begin to FEEL grateful.
Another way to teach adolescents gratitude is to have them write thank you notes. Teachers, school lunch workers, bus drivers, doctors, grandparents, the list is endless. They can write thank you notes to those that serve them on a daily basis. This helps them begin to have gratitude for the way society works.
How to Teach Gratitude to a Teenager
Teenagers are in a unique position to start doing things on their own. To teach a teenager gratitude you can encourage them to find something they care about and volunteer regularly.
Find out what your teen is passionate about and help them find a way to give of themselves to that cause. This will help them learn gratitude for the people that work for something they believe in.
This is a great time to talk about lists of gratitude. Teenagers all eventually get trapped in the negativity zone. This is a good time to help them see what is good around them.
There is so much to be grateful for!
Start a list that they can write down one thing they are grateful for every day. If that is too often, start with every week. Keep dialogues going about having gratitude. This will be the most important time to be a good example of gratitude.
Be aware of your own negativity trap and be sure to keep an eye out for what you have gratitude for. Every now and then you can challenge your teen to have a day of positivity. A day of focusing only on positive things. Make it a contest. Meet up at the end of the day to see who could find the most positivity in their day. Use this time to talk about what you have gratitude for.
One great example of gratitude is to start a gratitude journal. Keeping a journal will help you be mindful of the things around you that you are grateful for. Entries can be short, but do it consistently.
Another example of gratitude is to look for things you take for granted and be thankful for them. My daughter went off to college and her apartment does not have a bathtub. She loves taking a nice long bath. This was something she took for granted that she realized she has a lot of gratitude for.
Say thank you often. This sounds very simple, and it is, but so powerful. Saying thank you not only makes you feel good, but the person on the receiving end will feel happy too.
Benefits of Gratitude
There are countless benefits to practicing gratitude. People who express gratitude are generally happier. This opens the door for new and fulfilling relationships.
Gratitude helps improve our physical well-being. Studies have shown that people who are grateful have less pain and say they feel healthy.
Gratitude helps improve our mental health. When you have gratitude there is less room for toxic emotions like envy, jealousy, and resentment. Gratitude makes you happy and decreases depression. Self-esteem increases with gratitude. You stop comparing yourself socially and find more joy in who you are and what you have.
When you are grateful you sleep better. Spending a few minutes each night writing in a gratitude journal before bed can improve your sleep. We could all use a little more sleep!
“The more grateful I am, the more beauty I see.” – Mary Davis
“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” – Thornton Wilder
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward
“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
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” —Robert Brault
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Bridget is on of our interns currently finishing up a degree in Marriage and Family Studies. With 8 children and 1 grandchild, she strives to keep her family happy and healthy. She loves to read and if there is an opportunity for it, you will find her at the beach!