How to Teach Children Gratitude This Holiday Season
The holiday season is a wonderful time of year full of generosity and giving. For young children, though, the focus may fall more squarely on receiving than giving. We all need a little indulgence every now and then, but without some gentle guidance from you, your children may start to feel more entitled than appreciative. With so many opportunities to give back during the holidays, now is the perfect time to teach your children gratitude.
Learning gratitude can set up your children to feel happy with what they have rather than disappointed with what they don’t have. While research is still examining the role of gratitude in children, some studies suggest that gratitude could contribute to greater school satisfaction, improved social functioning, and more.
Teaching your children to say “please” and “thank you” is one easy step in the right direction. While they might not immediately feel a sense of gratitude, they might understand it more as they grow up. As they say, “fake it until you make it!”
It’s no secret that children learn from watching their parents. If you want your children to be grateful, show them what it looks like!
One way to do this is to express sincere gratitude to your child when he or she does something nice. Not only can this help encourage good behavior, but it can also show that it is appropriate to notice the nice things people do for you.
And don’t forget to show gratitude to others, too! If your child sees you showing your appreciation to people around you, he or she may mirror your behavior.
Set Aside Time to Remember What You’re Grateful For
Something good happens every day, but it can be easy to overlook the positives and focus on the negatives. Setting aside time each day for your children to share what they’re grateful for can help them focus on the good. To make daily gratitude more fun for small children, you might consider having them draw what they are grateful for. Over time, you might even compile their work into a gratitude book or journal that can serve as a permanent reminder of all the wonderful things in life.
Encourage Kids to Help You
Kids love helping, so you might as well use that to your advantage! Allowing your children to help with small, child-safe tasks can help reinforce that any chore takes effort. Once they recognize this, they may have an easier time feeling true gratitude for what you do for them. Of course, it’s also a great opportunity to model gratitude by thanking them for their help!
Encourage Kids to Give to Others
Since children don’t have money of their own, most experience receiving much more often than they experience giving. Encouraging children to give to others, even if it’s something small, can help them recognize gratitude in others and experience the joy of giving. If your child is getting new toys this holiday season, giving away old toys they’re no longer playing with may be one way for them to give.
Encourage Children to Write Thank You Notes
Thank you notes…even for adults, the very phrase may be groan-inducing. But spending the extra time to think about something nice someone has done for you gives you the opportunity to feel more gratitude, and children can experience the same benefits. Not only that, but the letter recipient may appreciate the polite gesture.
Demanding gratitude will probably be about as successful as demanding your child do long division in their head. Learning anything takes time, so be patient and don’t worry if you don’t see immediate results.
How do you teach your children about gratitude? Share what’s worked for your family in the comments section below!