Teaching Our Children Gratitude

In a time when needs and desires are instantly gratified, and where opportunities and privileges are abundant, we may find that our children are developing an “all for nothing” attitude without expressing the gratitude that is warranted. Expression of gratitude is vital to every individuals’ growth as it teaches us to appreciate what we have. It also teaches us to respect kindness and service, as well as appreciating their sources. I offer up three simple ideas to help teach our children the importance of gratitude in their own lives.

First and foremost, we as parents must lead by example. One of the greatest services and life lessons we can teach our children as they grow, is that of appreciation and thankfulness. There is no better way to teach a child than through personal example. Children learn the most through observation of those around them. When they see parents express thanks and appreciation for everyday occurrences, they will learn and want to do the same. Additionally, by expressing specific thanks towards our children they will feel the importance of gratitude in their own lives. By experiencing these feels of appreciation and worth, they will see and feel firsthand the powerful reward of thankfulness.

Second, we must eliminate entitlement in our childrens’ lives. Just because we can give them everything, doesn’t mean we should. We want our sons and daughters to feel like princes and princesses but not act like little tyrants. We can accomplish this by teaching them the importance of work and thriftiness in their lives. By not handing them their every whim and fancy, children will learn a greater sense of appreciation for what they do have. Someday they might even personally thank you for teaching them that less is often actually more.

Lastly, nothing can compensate for positive reinforcement in our childrens’ lives. Recognize their thankfulness. Praise them for expressing their gratitude. This simple act will help them to be even more grateful. Positive reinforcement is much more effective than negative punishment. By showing our children that we are aware of them and their efforts to be grateful, we are reinforcing their desire to do so.

A thankful heart and an “attitude of gratitude” are necessary for our childrens’ well-being and growth throughout their lives. We, as parents, must lead by example by being grateful ourselves. Additionally, the more we express gratitude the more we will see just how much we have to be grateful for. We will be happier. Our children will be happier. And in this day and age, no amount of money can buy our little princes and princesses happiness. Lead them down the road to happiness by teaching them the value of gratitude.