Gratitude is one of the most important qualities you can instill in your kids, and one of the easiest ones to teach them. Saying thank you is among the first social rules that we teach our children and it’s a great foundation to build upon.
Raising children who are grateful and appreciative can help them later in life with friendships and relationships, as well as their ability to understand and empathize. With Thanksgiving and the holidays coming up, it’s an especially good time to discuss gratitude with your children. Here are five simple things you can do to ensure you raise grateful kids.
1. Give a gift, share a gift: This year at Christmas, show your children the importance of sharing with others. Give them two gifts: one for themselves, and one to share. They can choose a friend or relative to give their second gift to. They will understand the importance of giving to others and will enjoy the feeling of making someone happy.
2. Point out gratitude and generosity: When you notice someone going out of their way to help or someone demonstrating gratitude, point it out to your children. Calling attention to behaviors you want them to model will reinforce the importance of them. And remember, you are the best example for your kids, so be sure to show gratitude and generosity through your actions, too.
3. Write thank you cards: The art of the handwritten letter is not lost. Most people still appreciate the thought and time it takes to handwrite your feelings. Teach children how to write thank you notes and express their gratitude through the written word. Use the holidays as an opportunity to have them send thank you cards for their gifts.
4. Volunteer as a family: Show gratitude as a family by volunteering and giving back to your community. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for all ages — visiting nursing homes, bringing meals to those less fortunate. If you can’t physically volunteer, choose a nonprofit to donate to as a family and set up a charity piggy bank in the home.
5. Make a gratitude jar: Ask family members to write down what they’re grateful for on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Make sure it’s not just a one-time thing though; encourage kids to write down what they’re thankful for each time they think of something. You can read the slips together weekly or monthly over dinner and discuss.