It’s the time of year when parents start talking about gratefulness and appreciation. As in, “Do my children appreciate all they have?” or “How can I teach my child to be grateful?”
We look around our homes – around our lives – and think, “Our children have so much! How can they NOT be grateful for all of this!?? Where are the thank-yous, and yes-pleases and I-am-so-luckys?”
The thing is, it’s not that simple. Gratitude is not a lesson that you can deliver while sitting around the dinner table.
Gratitude is an experience more than an action.
You can’t make kids feel gratitude by instructing them to be grateful. But boy, you can have them feeling gratitude by extending to them the generosity of your emotional self.
When you give of that self to your children, their neurons literally vibrate with gratitude. And as your children watch you manoeuvre through your day-to-day world with grace and compassion, for yourself, for others around you, and of course for them, those experiences soak in through their skin and literally become part of the fabric of who they are.
So how do you grow up grateful kids?
By having them know gratitude without bounds or rules but through the bottomless reserves of care and compassion they see in you. When you think about how you can grow up kids who are full of gratitude as well as the desire, from somewhere deep inside their souls, to share that with others, think about these 3 simple yet profoundly impactful guidelines to growing up grateful kids:
1. Plan every day to surprise your child with the actions of your own giving heart. When children are at the receiving end of an extension of immaterial goodness from your caring heart to theirs, it gives them the experience of gratitude first hand.
2. Have your children watch you travel through life with a grateful heart. When children see this just naturally in play as part of the ebb and flow of how you roll, they soak it in and take it on as their own.
3. Provide opportunities for your children to know what it is to give of themselves to another.
Does your elderly neighbour need someone to help with dog walking?
Do the firefighters at your local firehall need a pick me up by way of a plate of home-baked cookies?
Is there a charity you can donate gently used, no longer played with toys to?
Give your children an opportunity to participate in this kind of giving to really know gratitude from within.