“The more grateful I am, the more beautiful I see” – Mary Davis
Gratitude is something not just the kids, but everyone should learn. Life gets a little simple and polite with gratitude. When you are grateful that means you appreciate the small things. You don’t take things for granted, and you need to be thankful for what the other person is doing for you.
But just saying “Thank You’, is not what we are going to teach the child here. We need to teach them to feel it, know what it means, and be aware of it.
Being grateful is a way of saying I appreciate what you did for me. You can be grateful to anyone, your friends, family, and God (if you are a believer). You can be grateful to anyone who has helped you in any way. You can be thankful to a server at a hotel, a person who just stopped the life for you, or someone who picked up something for you, you just dropped.
Being grateful is a way of being a good human. So, teach your child to be thankful even for the most minor things.
1. Start telling them early what being grateful is
As I mentioned earlier, just saying thank you is not what we want to teach our children. We want them to learn what being grateful is. We want them to understand the meaning of being grateful and feel it.
Tell your child why you need to thank anyone who helped you.
Tell them why you need to say thank you.
Tell them saying thank you makes you as well as the other person feel good and positive about everything.
Slowly the child will start feeling happy to say thank you to someone or use the other magic words. It will eventually become a habit. It will help in more positivity in life.
e.g. Many times when we go out shopping, we see a few people saying thank you to the salesperson at check out. And many times we see, people just take things and move away thinking it is their job and there is nothing we should be thankful for to them, as they are getting paid.
But don’t you think just saying a thank you would be like a word of appreciation?
Won’t it make the other person happy?
Won’t it give you a sense of satisfaction?
And when we learn this we will be grateful for everything and everyone in our life.
2. Model being grateful
Kids do what they see. If you model gratitude your children will automatically pick that from you and start doing the same. Surely they will not understand why it has to be done, you will have to teach them. And they might also ask you the reason for doing so, and you can explain it to them.
Say, thank you when your child helps you in any way.
Say, thank you to the shopkeeper after you buy your groceries.
Say, thank you when you get your food in the restaurant.
Say, thank you to the house help.
Say, thank you for the slightest help you get.
Your child will hear and see the gratitude you are showing. They will learn and do the same. If you are rude to a waiter or waitress or anyone for that matter, your child will notice that. They will think it is normal and the right way to behave. They will remodel the same behaviour.
3. Talk about things you are grateful for
When you are talking to your child about gratitude, talk to them about what you are grateful for. From the smallest things to the big things, tell them all. Tell them they can be grateful for even a pencil they have in their hand, or the food they eat, the house they live in, for their lovely friends, teachers and family. Anything and everything.
4. Tell stories about gratitude
Tell them small stories about gratitude. Kids relate more to things and feelings when they hear stories. You can find amazing stories on gratitude online. You can also show them some videos and read books on being grateful.
Buy Here: My Attitude of Gratitude
Buy Here: The Thankful Book
Buy Here: The Thankful Pumpkin
Buy Here: Dr. Seuss’s Thankful Things
Buy Here: A Little Golden Book I Am Thankful
Related: 10 Tips to raise a good reader
5. Donate with your child
If you donate to the less privileged and the needy, then donate in the presence of your child (of course you should never publicise it to others or on social media). The child will ask you a lot of questions, why are we doing it, who are these people, why should we do it etc.
Answer them all. They will know that we should help others and also they will understand how privileged we are. And tell them we should be thankful for being privileged more than others and having so many things and relations in our lives. This will help them understand the importance of what they have and they will start being thankful for all of it.
6. Make gratitude part of the bedtime ritual
Before going to bed, after the bedtime stories, every night ask your child three things he or she is grateful about during the whole day. This will make them think about their day and also focus on the positive things that happened during the day. It will bring a smile to their face and they will be a little more optimistic about the next day before they sleep.
7. Teach them to focus on their strengths rather than weaknesses
Focusing on the strengths rather than the child’s weaknesses will help the child to gain more confidence. Yes, you need to correct when they are wrong, but that should not be the focus. The focus should be on the good things.
e.g. your child worked hard to win a competition at school. But, unfortunately, he or she could not. So, hear the child is already disheartened. Do not say “See you did not win it.” Instead say, “It is okay, you worked hard for it and tried your best. There is nothing to worry about. You can try again the next time.” The child will understand 2 things here:
1. That hard work is more important than winning
2. That there is always a next time, what is more important is participation
The child will try again the next time. Tell them to be grateful for their participation and for the hard work, they could put in it.
8. Gratitude Journal
This is one of the best things to incorporate once your child is a little older, and can read and write well. It is suitable for you too. A gratitude journal is a journal which you can ask your child to write just before sleeping at the end of the day. The child can write 3 things he or she was grateful for during the day.
This will help the child to recall what all happened and also what was the best part of the day. It helps in increasing a positive attitude towards life. A more grateful child is more successful. He or she will attract more good energy into life, and stay more happy.
If your child learns to be grateful from a young age, your child will be more positive in life. According to a few studies, teens who are more grateful are less depressed, are more happy, successful and feel more fulfilled. Positivity attracts good things. A child who is just 2 years old will not exactly understand the meaning of saying thank you. But slowly the child will start relating it to different things. Eventually, you will realise you are raising a good citizen.