It’s that time of year again! The holiday season is upon us. Although this can be stressful, it is generally known for remembering what we are thankful for and expressing our gratitude more freely.
Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” Gratitude is not an innate quality, but something that we learn. Many recent studies have shown that being grateful improves our overall mental, emotional and physical health.
So how can we help teach our children the virtue of gratitude not only during this time of year, but all year long? Here are a few ideas for you to try!
Think of a “thankful time” during the day
Help your kids think of a happy time during the day. A great way to do this is to have them think of something that they are thankful for or a time during the day where they felt happy. You could do this as you tuck them into bed at night or around the dinner table with all the members of the family present. Whatever way you do it, allowing your children to reflect on their day and remember the good can help them to develop a more consistent attitude of gratitude.
Serve with your kids
Serving others with your kids is an excellent way for them to develop a grateful attitude. Including your kids in service projects or small acts of kindness from the time they are young is a great way to help them develop the habit of looking outside of themselves. There are always opportunities to help others in our families or communities. Serving others allows us to recognize all that we have been given, including our time and talents, and helps us uplift others.
Thank you notes
Written notes of appreciation are a rare gem nowadays. Teach your children to write notes of appreciation for gifts they receive or nice things others have done for them. Sitting down, thinking about, and writing out why they are thankful will help them reflect, even after the presents are unwrapped, of the many things they have been given. And it will make the gift giver feel special, too!
Teach by example
It is amazing how much kids pick up on our behavior and attitude. One of the most effective ways to teach is to model the behavior that we want to see in our children. Be conscious of the good things that you kids do and thank them for those things! Show gratitude for others in word and deed. John F. Kennedy once said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” As we strive as parents to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our homes, our kids will notice and emulate the behavior.
For more great ideas, watch this video from Kid President or visit Zerotothree.org