We all want to help our children grow to have grateful hearts, but I admit – it can be incredibly hard in our society. We have to try harder to block the excess and the “entitlement” attitude and allow tenderness and mercy to seep in. The Me, Me, Me Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World by Amy McCready has been very helpful in opening my eyes and helping me find ways to parent more effectively in this area.
As I journey through this “second” season of parenting again with a five year old, I am reminded of the little things I can do each day to help be intentional in teaching gratefulness.
Set the Right Example
I was convicted of this and have been more intentional in my speech. We want our children to say “please” and “thank you”, so shouldn’t we model that? How many parents do you see saying “thank you” to there two or three year old children? It is through example that kids learn best, and teaching gratitude is no different than anything else in that respect. Children do learn what they live.
Teach by Showing Them How to Be of Service to Others
Even something simple, such as holding a door for an elderly person, is a small way we can show them how others appreciate us and our actions. It is also a way to put a smile and a lift into a stranger’s day, which always creates a good feeling within the person who is doing the kind act as well. You would be surprised how many times a simple gesture like this can occur in your normal day-to-day activities, in places like grocery stores, school, or shopping trips.
Make a List
This is on my list to begin during our dinner time, creating a simple list of what each person is thankful for. During this Thanksgiving season you could even make this Thanksgiving Tree decoration to help visualoze all the things your family is thankful for.
Teach Gratitude While Going Without Things
What can your family go with out? Whether it is intentional or not, like losing power for a day, you can take opportunities to bring in some reality to how life is for those who are not as blessed as we are.
Show Them How to Be Thankful for the Little Things in Life
We can easily forget how the simple things really are things to be thankful for. Having food to eat all the time, friends to play with, and having plenty of toys and school supplies are items to truly appreciate. Kids have no concept, especially if having these things are normal and they have never been without.
Teach Them to See the Good in Someone They Don’t Like
This is one I need to be reminded of often – so when you are having to go through it yourself, it provides the perfect opportunity to share that with your child. Being an adult is hard – but being a kid these days can be just as difficult as we learn to respect others and respond to others in kindness. This is hard when they’ve been mistreated, I totally know that. We have had the opportunity to talk about situations that have happened and share how we can respond better and with God’s love rather than how our spirit wants to respond.
It is all about developing character. If we want our kids to grow up having grateful hearts, it all starts with us and how we portray that in our homes.