That time of year has arrived when we pause to reflect on all we’re grateful for. Gratitude is a mindset we should have all year long. It’s never too early to adopt an attitude of gratitude. If you want your kids to appreciate all that they have, you can use Thanksgiving as a springboard to help them make counting their blessings a lifelong habit. Here are some ideas for inspiration.
Give your kids the opportunity to experience the joy of giving back. Look for age-appropriate ways to do this. For instance, school-age kids can shovel snow for an elderly neighbor. Take your family to a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter to help the less fortunate. Serving others gives kids a sense of perspective, so they’re less likely to take what they have for granted.
Encourage Kids to Contribute
While you don’t want to expect your kids to fend for themselves when it comes to having the basic necessities, it’s good for them to contribute toward buying things they want. If they have an allowance or earn money by mowing lawns, they can save up for something on their wish list. This gives children a sense of ownership and of what’s really important. Working for what they want discourages “entitlement” mindsets, too.
Set an Example
As parents, we regularly remind our kids to say “thank you” and treat people with respect. We can take it a step further by modeling an attitude of gratitude ourselves. Show courtesy and express genuine gratefulness to the people who cross your path daily: the fellow shopper who holds the door open for you at the department store or the clerk who rings up your groceries. It’s especially beneficial for your kids to see you show gratitude and respect toward people who are often overlooked, such as the custodians who work diligently behind the scenes to keep public places clean. Sometimes, we take what they do for granted, so when you see someone mopping floors or polishing windows, be sure to say “thanks” and encourage your kids to do likewise.
Make Them Feel Appreciated
There’s no time like the present to tell our kids how grateful we are to have them. Tell them what you appreciate about them. This is great for their self-esteem. It lets them know they’re valued unconditionally. Too often in our world, we’re told that we’re only as good as what we have or what we do. Showing our kids that they’re valued for who they are helps them cultivate a sense of gratitude beyond superficial characteristics or material things.
See the Glass as Half-Full
It’s easy for any of us– children and adults alike– to fall into pessimistic thinking. While we all go through difficult times, we can still find something to be grateful for. Help your kids come up with at least one positive takeaway, even in tough situations. Thinking about what they’re grateful for each day– teachers, friends, parents, and pets– can be an excellent mood-booster. Talk about it as a family or, if your children are old enough, have them keep a gratitude journal.
Find Teachable Moments
Sometimes, when we’re talking to our children about gratitude, what we say seems to go in one ear and out the other. Be on the lookout for teachable moments– times when you can show kids how what you’re teaching them applies to the real world. The holidays, especially, seem to be a gold mine of teachable moments. This season of giving can bring out the best in humanity, and it sets the stage for us to make gratitude a year-round habit.
Write Thank-You Notes
Although our kids may resist, we should encourage them to write thank-you notes– not just when they receive gifts, but anytime someone does something nice for them. Teachers, for instance, really appreciate a handwritten expression of gratitude at the end of a long school year.
Let Your Network Know You’re Grateful for Them
One place where we see lots of posts about gratitude is social media. Some people dedicate the whole month of November to expressing publicly what they’re grateful for. Go2s is a secure social networking app that allows you to share what’s important with friends and family, without the traffic and noise you’ll find on other social media platforms. Create an account today.