5 Ways to Teach Your Children Gratitude
Teaching your children gratitude is one of the most important lessons you can share with your kids.
I don’t know about you, but all I really want for my children is for them to be HAPPY. It doesn’t matter to me if they have a college degree or if they are a rubbish collector, if they end up working as a doctor or a tradesman, honestly, no job is better than the other, as long as it provides a sense of happiness in their life.
I want my children to realise that THINGS aren’t going to make them happy, that life is so much more than constantly acquiring more stuff.
Happiness isn’t the buzz you get when you finally get that laptop you were dreaming of, happiness is a constant state of being, a contentment that you carry within you. It comes from looking at what you already have and being grateful for it.
We can all aspire to have MORE but we also need to acknowledge what we have RIGHT NOW.
This crazy world we live in bombards our kids with wanting stuff, in being ‘cool’, in having to be someone famous to be a success in life. They have to ‘BE’ someone. Apparently, they cannot just be themselves.
I feel like they are being told the biggest lie. Look around… rates of depression and rates of suicide show us that our children are far from happy. They are losing the ability to truly connect with this world, to connect with each other. They need to realize that their place in the world does not have to be one on the TV or in the limelight to be important.
Stop giving time and importance to those things that merely entertain us, or bring short term happiness – material things like a new car, a bigger TV, new clothes. Give more attention to those things and experiences that make us truly joyful or to people who are making positive changes in this world. Pay attention to how they make us feel.
We hear about the happiest people on the planet – these people are not the ones you imagine. They do not have a mansion and masses of money and material objects. They live a simple life. They are content with what they have and they are grateful.
You cannot be truly happy without being grateful first.
Here are some ways to start teaching your children about gratitude:
1. Stop and smell the roses with your kids
Show them how to slow down in this fast-paced world. Show them the wonder that is all around them. Take them out to look at the stars at night. When it rains tell them how grateful you are to have your home that is keeping us dry and warm. Explain how the plants outside will be so happy to have some water so they can grow bigger and stronger. It is all about stopping and noticing.
When you do this you are also stopping and connecting with your children. You show them to look for the positives in life, to be mindful, to be grateful.
2. When you go out, don’t always buy them things
Teach them that things are just that … things. Things are nice from time to time, but they are not really important. How much happiness will they bring, truly? How quickly will they get bored of that new toy they insisted on, bring up previous examples. You might talk about all the toys they have been given in the past and ask them, ‘where are they now?‘ This leads to a conversation about how that toy was broken and maybe it is in a landfill right now. How much value and meaning did that toy bring them, how quickly did they lose interest in the toys they once longed for.
This is a hard one for kids to grasp, I know! They live far more in the moment than we do so if they don’t get what will make them happy in this moment in can cause genuine heartache. But it will get easier. The more conversations you have around this the easier it will be for them to understand.
3. Let them give
When you are out and about and see a busker or someone trying to raise money for something, give some coins to the kids so they can give it. They absolutely love it. They learn that awesome feeling you get when you give.
If it is someone raising money for a charity, talk to the children about what the charity is trying to do and that by giving, they are helping those people achieve something special. Then they get to connect with the person they give to. They get a ‘thank you’ and we all know how that feels … it feels so good. They will start to do it with their own allowance. My boys don’t get much money of their own, but often if they get some money to buy something for themselves, they give away the coins readily to others! It always fills my heart when I see them giving and then receiving thanks.
4. Share what you are doing
Sharing your journey with your family is a great thing to do. Show them the vision board you created and let them do their own vision boards. Setting up your children with the ideas, that they can create the life they want … what a wonderful gift to give them.
Show them the gratitude journal you use.
Write inspiration notes on a blackboard in the kitchen so you see it every day, and get the kids to write them from time to time too.
Share the knowledge you gain about being positive, being happy and being grateful. Share your gratitude with them. When we are in the car I will ask them what they are grateful for. I usually start with … “We are so very lucky! I am so grateful today that we have a car to drive around in. What are you grateful for today?” …. and it can go on and on as we drive along.
Be authentic with them and, in turn, they will be with you.
5. Get them to write it down
A daily practice of writing down what you are grateful for is an extremely important way to instill a life of gratitude in your children. I have used a gratitude journal for years and getting your children, once they are able to write, to have one of their own is not only a great habit to get into, it is also a lovely thing to look back on when they are not feeling so great.
For your younger children, simply write it down for them. What an amazing keepsake to have!
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