Monday, November 19, 2012

6 Tips for Raising Grateful Children

How many times in a lifetime do we hear the reminder: "Don't forget to say please and thank you"? During the month of November, we feel a lot of push and are reminded often that we need to express our gratitude. But we should be grateful and give thanks during the other 11 months of the year as well.

But what does it mean to give thanks? Saying thank you is certainly part of good manners that we should be teaching our children, but to be truly thankful is something more.

It is important to stress the importance of gratitude each and every day. Here a few ways to do that. If you have any others you have used or that you know have worked, please share them in the comments.

Be a gratitude role model. When you spend every night writing down the things you are thankful for in your journal, you're bound to pass along the "hint" to your children. Stating those blessings out loud and expressing how grateful you are for them only reinforces this type of modeling. "I'm so happy you are part of my life. "Your dad is the best dad in the world." "I'm so grate I get to spend my day with you." "You are such a sweet sister. Thank you for being so nice to your brother."
Simplicity matters. Keep things simple. When you don't have a lot of extra fancy things, you're children are more likely to notice and appreciate the little things in life.

Teach actions. Saying thank you is all well and good. But in these crazy times of social networking and very little real connection between people, it is that much more important to teach children to actually show up and express their gratitude. have them write out their thank yous in a journal every day. Call instead of emailing. Give cookies to the school janitor.

Talk about the world. Talk about how much the flowers need the rain, about how we get our food, about the effort put into their dad's Sunday morning pancakes. Talk about what matters with your children. Help them to see the world from a different perspective. Help them understand that things on the other side aren't always how they appear, and that we must be thankful for what we have and not yearn for what others have. Help your children see life from all sides. Be grateful for it all.
Give thanks. For all children, writing or drawing a picture of what they are grateful for is a wonderful way to get them thinking about being grateful. For the ones not quite ready for that kind of daily devotion, a simple bedtime ritual works wonders. Ask your child what she is grateful for today. Set an example and share your own idea or two with her as well.

Make cards. Every now and then, buy some blank cards and let your children go nuts decorating them however they see fit. Send the cards to people in your lives that need a lift. Thank you cards are a lost art that some of us really wish we could get people to spend more time on. Make a card. Give thanks daily. Spread joy weekly.

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