When is the right time to teach gratitude in children, and is it even possible to teach gratitude? The answer is a resounding “YES, start now” – because gratitude is a critical life skill which carries a lot of weight in the overall happiness of both kids and adults. Showing recognition of a gift or of a kind act, and being grateful in general is so much more than just saying “thank you.” Gratitude develops social and emotional skills.
Being grateful is a positive emotion that is good for our physical and emotional health. Feeling good always has a positive impact on our well-being and a feeling of gratitude improves one’s outlook on life and strengthens relationships. There are so many proven benefits of gratitude, but what do you need to do to teach your child to express gratitude? Continue reading for proven tips.
Teach Them to Say “Thank you”
While many can argue that encouraging your child to say “thank you” in certain situations can feel forced, it’s the best way to build a habit and a great starting point. A habit of saying thanks helps kids recognize certain situations where the others have given them something, whether it’s a gift, a compliment or time.
Don’t be afraid to encourage them with sentences like “What do you say to your brother for sharing his chocolate?” or “What should you say to your grandma for the present?” Even if it doesn’t seem like a genuine recognition at the beginning, it’s an important starting point for heading down the path to gratitude.
Lead by Example
You can’t teach your children to express gratitude if you’re not doing it. There is no way around this. Your kids are absorbing everything you say and do. Say “thank you” often – in the store, at home, or with friends. Your kids will learn the best when you demonstrate heartfelt gratitude.
Ask Them “Gratitude Questions”
Once your children learn to appreciate what the others are doing for them and are saying thank you regularly, you can start digging deeper on the subject. Begin having conversations about what being grateful means.
Ask them what they have in their lives that make them happy. You can make a list of everything that makes you feel grateful and have them do the same. Wait for their response and ask them how they are feeling after listing all those reasons.
When you sit down for a meal together, even if you don’t formally pray, make sure to take a moment to thank the farmers and people that have grown your food, the earth for providing life and food not only for humans but for all creatures. In our house after we express gratitude for our meal, we go around the table and each list our “highlight of the day” to remember to be grateful for small moments.
You can also build a nighttime habit of telling one another everything that happened that day that made you both feeling grateful.
Encourage them to express appreciation. Ask them how they felt after receiving a certain gift. In the early years especially, teach them to write thank-you notes not only for every physical gift received but for their teachers and friends or other caregivers.
Be Patient With Them
Teaching someone to be grateful doesn’t happen overnight. It requires months of attention and patience. You need to involve your whole family in the process. It’s not an easy task, but believe me, it’s so rewarding! Teaching gratitude to children will help you raise cheerful and happy kids that feel great doing good for others.