Teaching Gratitude to Your Children
We are officially entering the holiday season. With all the traditions, food, gifts and holiday excitement, it can be easy to lose sight of why we celebrate the holidays in the first place. The holidays are a time to give back to others and give thanks for our blessings.
Gratitude is an essential quality to possess, which is why it's important for parents need to teach their children gratitude, as it leads to developing sympathy, empathy and other life skills. Although teaching your child to be thankful can be challenging, especially during the holiday season, but it is worthwhile. Here are some ways to teach your kids how to be grateful.
Saying Thank You
One of the first steps in expressing gratitude is encouraging your child to say "thank you" often. Offer reminders like when the server brings their food or when they are gifted a gift to say thank you. When they are first learning, it may not seem genuine at first, but it can help them recognize that whenever someone brings them something, it is essential to say thank you. This will be an important learning tool to help them express genuine gratitude. You can also praise their actions when they begin to express their appreciation, which will reinforce their behavior verbally.
Focus on the Positives
Another way to practice gratitude is by shifting our children's mindset to focus on the positives rather than the negatives, even if it is not the outcome they'd hoped for. For example, if a sports game gets rained out, you can point out that while it's disappointing, you now have time to spend together playing games inside. Help your child find the silver lining in disappointing situations by helping them find small positives in each circumstance. You can also use this when expressing gratitude for things that may be no longer here. For example, if a family pet passes away, you can say that while it's a sad situation, you are thankful to have had them in your life. You can teach your child that it is possible to be sad and grateful simultaneously. By teaching kids to look at things positively, they'll begin to see that they have a lot to be thankful for, even on their worst days.
Perform Acts of Kindness
Expressing gratitude through physical acts of kindness is a great way to cultivate gratitude in your children. These acts of service can be as simple as donating clothes or toys and as hands-on as volunteering at a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or non-profit. You can even implement small things in your daily life, like writing and sending thank you letters to express gratitude to others. Participating in these activities instills a sense of generosity and allows them to experience the joy of giving to others.
Once we teach children how to be thankful, the most crucial step is modeling gratitude yourself. Our kids watch and learn from us every day. They organically learn from us. If we don't practice being grateful, neither will they. Express what you are thankful for out loud and model gratitude through physical acts of kindness with your kids regularly. One way to model gratitude is by simply showing your kids appreciation. Be specific in letting your children know they are unique and loved. Saying thank you to a child can reinforce their good behavior and helps develop empathy as they learn to recognize gratitude in others.
Gratitude is one of the healthiest emotions we experience as humans, so it is important to teach children how to be thankful and how to properly express their feelings of gratitude towards others. By incorporating gratitude in you daily lives, not only will your child benefit, but you may find a boost in your overall happiness and well being as well.
Pediatrics in Brevard provides a great number of resources for parents and even has its own new pediatric podcast for parents called “Are You KID-DING ME?” The podcast is hosted by Katies Parsons and features expert pediatrician and Pediatrics in Brevard provider, Dr. Tara Forcier, and includes 12 episodes that features important topics on everyday issues like putting children to sleep, discipline, education, social media and screen time.
If you are looking for a pediatrician in the Cocoa Beach, Melbourne, Viera, or Rockledge area, contact Pediatrics in Brevard today to set up your first appointment.