Ways To Teach Your Kids To Be Grateful
Children aren’t born full of knowledge on societal norms—they learn norms over time. But some concepts can prove harder to grasp than others. Gratitude is one norm that many children struggle to understand. Young children are immature, and they’re more likely to exhibit selfish tendencies compared to older kids. Though you may face difficulty in teaching your child gratitude, the effort is worth the reward. You’ll get to bask in the sound of daily “thank yous,” and, according to a study on the effects of gratitude on children, enjoy spending time with a happier and healthier kid. Here are some simple and effective ways to teach your kids to be grateful.
Start With the Basics
Before you delve into the more nuanced details of the concept, start with the basics. The first step involves teaching your child how and when to express appreciation. Remind them to say “thank you” whenever someone does something nice for them. Eventually, your child will get into the habit of doing so and thank people unprompted. To encourage this behavior even further, make sure to point out occasions when they thank someone without needing a reminder. (“I’m very proud of you for remembering to say thank you when your brother shared his toys with you!”) This positive reinforcement can go a long way toward encouraging gratitude in the future.
Intention Matters More Than the Motion
Encouraging your child to go through the motions is a good start, but intention matters more than action when it comes to showing appreciation. You don’t want them to give empty praise. Start asking them to go into a bit more detail with their words of gratitude. If they thank you for giving them a snack, ask them why they’re thankful that you did that. This will help them understand that gratitude is more than just a motion—it’s a way for them to express their thoughts and feelings to others.
Practice Makes Perfect
There are plenty of ways to teach your kids to be grateful, but how can you successfully reinforce these teachings? Practice makes perfect! Encourage your child to express their gratitude in as many ways as possible. Do they want to surprise their friend? Take them shopping to find the perfect gift. Do they want to thank their teacher? Help them write and deliver a meaningful thank-you letter. You can even incorporate demonstrations of gratitude into their everyday schedule. Create a board where they can leave notes of thanks to their family members or have them share three things they’re thankful for before bed. This will give them the opportunity to practice gratitude every single day.