How to help your child feel gratitude

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I´ve been teaching my daughter to say please and thank you to me and other people. But teaching her to do it automatically is not really making her understand what the act is all about.

I want two things: that she uses a polite manner with people but especially that she learns to be grateful and appreciative. So I´ve been wondering and searching about how to help children be really grateful.

This is one of the reasons why I´ve been thinking of spending a few months in a different country, so that she sees people acting respectfully to others in another way different from what I can do at home. What beautiful lessons to be learned from other cultures about gratitude.

There is no doubt that feeling gratitude is one of the best lessons we can give to our children. What a nicer world we can have when all kids are more blissful with what they have and when people are being gentle to one another.

The way to start it is to help kids express gratitude. Now, like practically any other teaching, the best way to help them achieve something is by giving the example. How often you feel and express your gratitude is going to play the main role in this teaching.

So the best way to start is by acknowledging all the things you have to be grateful of and how you communicate this to your little one.

Here are 7 tips you can use:

1. Set the example – tell your kid how you enjoyed the day, how you like when you spend time together. Talk about material things as well, like how you are happy that you could sleep in such a comfortable bed and etc.

2. Show them how to be of service to others – ask them to help someone else by opening the door or caring a bag. If your kid is too young like mine, he might resist doing things and that´s ok, but keep giving some opportunities for him to do good to others. He´ll eventually do it and feel great with the result of another person smiling and saying thanks.

3. Make a puppet show – make a doll theater with a message in disguise. Light up your imagination; make the little mouse help the monkey that hurt his leg to climb the tree. The monkey might share his banana in appreciation (I´m sure you´ll think of much cooler stories than this one).

4. Sing a song – chose a song from your favorite artists that´s about gratitude and sing it often. Your kid will likely learn the song as well. I use Perfect Day of Lou Reed, the melody is sad as hell and it talks about heroin, but you can hardly tell and the message is sweet: “just a perfect day”.

4. Volunteer – take your kid with you to a program you may be part of. If you don´t have much time, no problem, find something to contribute that will take only one hour of your week, or of your month, maybe baking food at home to bring to some shelter is an idea. There are so many options. Share with your kid this great experience of giving. I started singing songs in a second language three times a week at my girl´s kindergarten. I´m not helping anyone in real need, but I´m  spreading some knowledge. You can make come up with various things to help others.

5. Write about it – write a thank you letter or note to someone. Talk about this to your kid. If he can write, great, maybe he will want to write one as well.

6. Make a gift – express your gratitude to someone by making something yourself. The key here is not buying anything, but being creative and spending time doing it, while you think of the other person receiving it. Have your kid helping you to do it.

7. Talk about it before going to sleep – tell the kids what you liked more about the day and how that makes you feel. Encourage them to choose a nice moment of the day with you.

The best thing about teaching these great lessons is that you learn them better yourself. In trying to make a good child, a good person, you make yourself be better. You inspire others on the same path and you become part of change in the world you want to see.

What do you do to help your child feel gratitude? Or even better, do you feel grateful for what you have?

Photo Credit

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on October 28, 2010. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.

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