Do you think today’s kids are ungrateful? Entitled? Spoiled?
Well, in reality, that’s a complaint that adults have had since time immemorial. Young people today are probably no more or less grateful than they were a generation ago, or the generation before that, and so on.
But gratitude isn’t necessarily an inherent trait. As the classic song from South Pacific says, “You’ve got to be carefully taught.”
It’s important that we foster feelings of appreciation in children from the time they are very young. And, while saying “thank you” is a great start, there are many more ways to instill a sense of gratitude in your kids.
Here are 15 tips from Big Life Journal:
1. Say please and thank you.
Our manners show that we do not believe we are entitled to anything, and that in fact, we appreciate whatever comes our way.
2. Help someone less fortunate.
This could be your neighbor down the street, grandma or someone you know who is in a tough spot.
Help out at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or non-profit.
4. Look for awe-inspiring moments in your day.
If the sunset is particularly beautiful, comment on it. If the sound of the baby’s laughter warms your heart, tell your children. Encourage them to look for their awe-inspiring moments and share them with you.
5. Share your gratitude at bedtime.
Take five minutes at the end of the day to ask your child what he or she is thankful for that day.
6. Share your gratitude at the dinner table.
Take a moment at dinner time to share what you are thankful for. Go around the table, allowing each family member a chance to vocalize their gratitude.
7. Compliment others.
Encourage your children to do the same. Share the things you appreciate about another person.
8. Keep a gratitude journal.
This can be in any form that works best for your child’s age, skill level and desire. Some kids will want to spend time writing their thoughts down. Others may be more apt to express their gratitude through drawing or painting.
9. Give someone a gift.
Help your child earn the money and purchase the gift. Or make a gift together.
10. Always look for the positive.
Find something positive in frustrating situations and discuss it.
11. Practice turning complaints in to praises.
Coach your children to reword their complaint into something that they appreciate instead.
12. Create a gratitude jar.
Encourage your kids to add to it anytime they are feeling grateful for something or someone.
Nonprofits serve people in need and at this time of the year they are always looking for basic necessities, meals and gifts to give to those in need.
14. Take gratitude walks.
While you walk, look for the simple pleasures in the day, such as the warm sun or the birds singing and express appreciation for them. Use this time to ask your kids what they are grateful for.
15. Work through envy.
Help your child work through any feelings of jealousy he/she may have. Envy can come when we are not feeling thankful for what we have, and are focusing instead on what others have.
From all of us at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center, we wish you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving!