Many things are vying for our child’s attention and loyalty. Social media, electronic devices, extra-curricular activities and worldly pressures can drain our children’s time and distract them. Helping our children be grateful will help them be grounded. The benefits of gratitude go far beyond the “thank you” we offer. Demonstrating appreciation for and to our children daily is one way to have a positive influence in their lives. When we show them that we are grateful for them, it helps them feel not only appreciated, but valued. It will also help them be more appreciative of other people and things in their lives.
We can be an example of someone who is grateful. We can express thanks for things around us, we can keep a “gratitude journal”, or we can write thank you notes. It may be hard at first to develop the “attitude of gratitude” and think of different things every day to be grateful for. Start by thinking of your family, your body, the world and the basic necessities of life. As we practice habits of gratitude, we will see the things in our lives that we have to be grateful for – even the challenges. Our children will pick up on these habits.
A family I spoke with recently said that they share what they are grateful for each day as they eat dinner. They all take turns expressing thanks for something, no matter how small it is. It could be that their brother didn’t fight with them that day, or that they did well on a test. It could be that they didn’t miss the bus, or their mom made dinner for them. It can be any simple act of kindness. This practice allows them to be aware of things they can be grateful for and it also helps them see what others appreciate – maybe even about them. This daily habit brings their family closer together as they recognize that they truly are blessed.
Being grateful helps us to be unselfish.
Many views of the world today perpetuate a “me” way of thinking. Being grateful frees us from these self absorbed concepts. As we are grateful we tend to look around us and outside of ourselves to see who may need help. Serving others is a wonderful way to express gratitude. It can be very simple acts of kindness, (smiling at people as you walk down the street) or something more involved that your whole family plans and works toward implementing (a trip to help needs in another country, serving a community lunch, sponsoring a child). This practice also helps to ground our children and keeps them focused on more important things in life.
Looking for things to be grateful for increases our capacity to feel gratitude and influences our children to do the same.