Tips for Raising Grateful Children
Ever heard something so surprising come out of your child's mouth and think to yourself, "Am I raising an ungrateful child? If so, join the club!
In a world full of entitlement, its no surprise that many parents are concerned they may be raising a spoiled child. As a parent to a six year old boy, I have to say, I wonder this too! I question my parenting choices with every little "attitude" my child throws my way!
So I dug deep into my toolbox and came up with these 5 tips for raising up grateful children.
Not only does comparison steal away joy, but it also squashes gratitude. Be careful not to compare your child to others. When we focus more on what we enjoy about our kids, we show our own gratitude for them. We can also catch our kids when they compare themselves to others by reminding them that each person has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Children are always watching and observing us. And thanks to mirror neurons, we can make a huge impact on our children simply by acting the way we expect them to act. If you pay attention, you’ll realize you have countless opportunities to model gratitude every day!
Let them express disappointment
We all experience a let down from time to time. When our children experience disappointments we can keep their brain in learning mode by offering a strong dose of empathy before anything else. Then, we can use curiosity and conversation to help them shift back into a place of gratitude.
“Aww man…, I know that must have been really hard to say goodbye to your friend...."
"Aren’t you glad you two had so much fun together?"
"What was your favorite part of your time with them?"
Stop commanding gratitude
Instead of directing children to say “thank you”, remind them by asking “how does that make you feel?”, “What can you say to show you're grateful?” This creates an opportunity to practice authentic gratitude vs. a reflexive habit.
Expect them to contribute
Is your child an honored guest in your home or a contributing member of the family? Surprisingly, children feel loved and valued when their contributions are needed. By playing a part in what makes the household run, children can develop an appreciation for the hard work you put in as a parent as well. Team work makes the dream work! Read more about teaching children to do chores here!
Help others in need
Whether it be delivering a meal to a family with a new baby, packing a box for Operation Christmas Child, or volunteering at a soup kitchen. Children learn about the needs of others by being exposed to these opportunities. They learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them and that not everyone lives with the advantages they have. With consistency, and conversations around these concepts, children can learn to appreciate what is provided for them.
In a society that is always pushing "more, more , more" and egocentrism, this is an uphill battle a lot of the time. But the good news is that by being intentional in the ways mentioned above, you can make a lot of progress that will carry over for years to come. And you will see a glimmer of selflessness here and there too! I'll never forget when I got to witness my son go out of his way to offer his own to balloon to a child who's balloon had popped. That's when I realized my efforts were not in vain!
Keep making those small deposits. They all add up over time!