Are you struggling to teach your children to be more thankful?
Do your kids act entitled and not understand how good they have it?
Rather than exhaust your patience and energy trying to lecture your child, try these tips and best practices to create an attitude of gratitude in your home.
WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR?
When asked this, the go-to is typically a person or object (i.e. my favorite toy). However, encourage your child to think beyond the material. Ideas include the weather, activities, smells, tastes, sounds, events, and even his/her negative emotions. “I am grateful for my fear of “x” because it teaches me to be brave/careful.”
Come together for a couple of minutes each evening and have each family member share a few things they are grateful for. The basics are welcome (food, shelter, etc), but find specifics from that day. Your child will start looking for ideas to share and seeing his/her day from a new perspective. Try it during dinner or at bedtime.
Mindfulness simply means bringing your awareness to the present. You can practice this in stillness (i.e. mediation) or during activities. A quiet walk to clear the mind is great for kids who don’t like sitting still. Notice the sounds, smells, and sensations. You can encourage your child to be aware of his/her breath or surroundings, and then grateful be for some part of it.
Tons of gratitude journals are available to purchase, but you don’t need anything formal. Just list things you are grateful for each day (or have your child draw them). If you or your child is ever in a bad mood, you can look back and see joyful moments and experience them again.
LAUGH AND BE SILLY
Turn a bad situation around by shifting the mood. Lighten things up with a joke, silly dance or by blowing a raspberry on your arm (kids love fart sounds). Laughter triggers the release of endorphins which move you to a happier mindset. Bonus: laughing together improves bonding!
UNDERSTAND THE SCIENCE OF GRATITUDE
Gratitude literally rewires your brain. Each time you have a happy, grateful thought, your brain builds new neurological pathways that make you more optimistic, healthier and happier. The more grateful & positive you are, the more grateful & positive you will be.
SET THE EXAMPLE
Your child soaks up everything you do. Become aware of how you speak and act even when you are alone. Constant negativity and complaining teaches your child to see and expect the worst from his/her experiences. Make gratitude and positive mindset a daily part of your life.
SEE THE SILVER LINING
Make a habit of finding something positive in every situation- both in your own experiences and your child’s. “I am sorry that you are sick today, but it was nice having extra time to cuddle.”
ACKNOWLEDGE AND ALLOW ALL FEELINGS
Teaching our children to deny their negative emotions makes them disconnect with themselves and can hinder their emotional development. Rather than telling them not to cry or to cheer up, acknowledge their emotion (anger, fear, sadness) and help them move through it.
SHOW GRATITUDE TOWARD YOUR CHILD
Tell you child you are grateful for his/her help, cooperation and gifts. Let him/her know how it makes you feel. But above all, make sure your child knows you are unconditionally grateful for his/her very existence. “I am so glad to see you.” “Thank you for being you.”