Teaching Gratitude At Home
Children can easily pick up lifelong gratitude habits when exposed to them regularly at home. Try these simple tips:
• Set an example. Transform your grumbles into thanks by saying things like, “Yes, we do need to clean up the house, but aren’t we lucky to have a house to keep us safe and warm?”
• Reward thankfulness. When they say, “Thanks Mom!” stop what you’re doing, get eye level with them, give them a hug and tell them how much you appreciate their appreciation. If you consistently delight in their gratitude, it will reinforce this behavior and they’ll do it more often.
• Give them a reality check. Challenge their assumptions about the things they take for granted. For example, when they’re taking a warm bath you might discuss with them the fact that some families don’t even have clean water.
• Help them give to others. Give them the opportunity to give to others and make someone else happy and grateful. Tell them about the things you do to help others. When they share a toy or comfort another child, talk about how happy they made the other child: “Did you see how big she smiled when you gave her your ball? How did that make you feel when she thanked you?”
• Create rituals for giving thanks. Holiday rituals are important but you can also create more frequent appreciation rituals through daily reflection, dinner conversations and bedtime routines. By focusing on all that you and your kids have to be grateful for, you can use everyday moments to make gratitude and thankfulness a part of your family’s daily life. Simple comments like, “Isn’t it a beautiful day!” or “Warm jammies feel so nice on a cold night!” will help foster in your children an awareness of how much they have to be thankful for.