Nowadays, we live in a world that’s dominated by impatience. People don’t want to wait, but get what they want as quickly as possible. Sometimes, this way of life can create the feeling that we deserve everything in an instant and the difference between a wish and a need becomes unclear. It is important that, as parents, you stop for a minute to think about the attitudes you promote at home.
Before you start, we’ll like to clarify that there’s something your kids do deserve and that is the love of their parents. This love is unconditional and can’t be bought with material things. Also, you need to teach your children that privileges are the result of hard work and that it is important to be thankful for what one has, before asking for more.
Parents that want their kids to be grateful must start living their lives being more grateful themselves. Children that practice gratitude are more likely to become responsible adults.
The good news is that gratitude can be taught! And, along with it, you’ll breathe a happier atmosphere at home. Parents are the most real and close role model their kids have. That’s why we’ll tell you a couple of ideas to promote gratitude with your family. You can start with yourselves, so it’s easier to transmit to others. If something that we ought to be thankful for but we feel we deserve is not fulfilled, it can become a source of ungratefulness and our children can witness that. That’s why one of the best things you can do is be a good example for them.
You can do simple actions that take less than five minutes a day and have a significant impact in your lives. For example, as parents, you can keep a gratitude diary. Also, you can write down the best part of your day in little pieces of paper and put them in a container. In the future, you can read some of the notes on random days. After you start doing this, you can transmit it to your family. The ideal age to teach gratitude is when your kids are young. Teach them how to thank someone by giving them a small drawing they made or, when they learn how to write, by writing thank you notes.
Some ideas you can practice as a family are:
- Surprise your children from time to time! It’s easier to be grateful for an occasional gift because, if you fulfill every desire your kids have, they’ll develop a feeling that they deserve everything and will stop appreciating things.
- Tell them family stories. It’s important that your children know how you and your parents lived and the difficulties you had to overcome. Together, be grateful for what you have and foster that they have to keep working hard for what they want.
- If you have older children, let them take care of the younger ones. This will make them more conscious of the needs of others.
- Say thank you so that your kids can hear you. Taking for granted that someone is doing their job is not enough. Frequently, give your children the chance to hear you thank their teachers, the waitress, the cleaning staff, and everyone that does something for you.
- Supervise the audiovisual content your kids consume. Nowadays, media promotes materialism. Be aware of how exposed your children are to this kind of content. Look for programs that are educational and teach values.
Remember that the best you can do is be a good example for your children. It will be easier to promote gratitude if you live it daily. It’s not easy, but little by little you can become aware of what you do and say, and try to complain less and thank more. You’ll see the impact this has on your family and how amazing it is to see your little ones being grateful.
• Welch, K. (2015) Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World: How One Family Learned That Saying No Can Lead to Life’s Biggest Yes. United States: Tyndale Momentum [fragment e-book] Retrieved from: http://raisinggratefulkids.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/RGK-Chap-1.pdf
• 12 Tips for Teaching Children Gratitude
• Nurturing gratitude