Teaching Children About Gratitude

As the season of gratitude and giving is upon us, this is a wonderful opportunity to remember to take the time to teach our children the importance for being grateful.  The concept of thankfulness can be difficult for a child to embrace, and especially put into practice.  How can we, as parents and caregivers, help our children learn to be grateful? Here are a few tips about teaching children about gratitude.

While we might believe that we all have a natural inclination toward thankfulness, for most of us, gratitude is learned.  By teaching our children to be grateful, they learn to become more sensitive to the feelings of others, more empathic, and have increased self-esteem.  Furthermore, they are happier, more social, and have deeper friendships.

So how do we instill gratitude in our children?  It’s certainly not a lesson that can be taught in a single example or learned overnight.  It’s not a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude.   We can teach our children in the ways we role model gratitude in our day-to-day interactions with our family, friends, and the community.  Remembering to say “please” and “thank you” to our children, the cashier at Trader Joe’s, or the stranger that held the door open for us is a small, yet powerful gesture for children to learn by example.

In addition, especially around the holidays, when the focus is on receiving, we can incorporate family traditions of volunteerism and the joy of giving.  Being of service can be part of a child’s life from a very young age. You and your family can volunteer at a local charity, adopt a family for the holidays, or collect toys and clothing for a local shelter.

We can also remove the emphasis on presents and focus more on celebrating; visiting with family, baking cookies, decorating the tree, lighting the menorah, or attending services.

Families can continue service oriented projects throughout the year by getting our children involved in writing thank you notes, baking cookies for a local fire department, or donating our belongings to a woman and children’s shelter.

Our client Rebecca, shared with Educated Nannies a family tradition she started when her daughter, Ava was two and half years old.   “Each night, before bed, we reflected on the day and shared a highlight.  Sometimes it was a simple as having ice cream after dinner.  As Ava grew older, her highlights were centered more around what she did for someone, rather than what she received.”   Another client, Adam and his family share their daily gratitudes during dinner time.  “Our family begins with a prayer, followed by what each of us is thankful for before we begin eating.”  “This helps our boys to focus on the little things.” he continued.

What are some of your traditions or ways by which you teach your children to be thankful?  Educated Nannies wants to hear from you.

Wishing each and every one of you a THANKful Thanksgiving!

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