As we enter the holiday season, we must reflect upon our own lives and how fortunate many of us are to have a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, and a lifestyle that is enriched with so many opportunities. Freedom is a word we forget. Other countries do not always have the choice to be educated or even to have basic necessities.
When we look at research on the studies of happiness and gratitude, the studies show that 25 percent or more of people who consider themselves “grateful,” are significantly happier than those who do not.
How do we as parents teach our children the concept of gratitude?
We must role-model this belief system and instill it in our children from a young age. We often hear that we are raising a new generation of children who are entitled and don’t know the important meaning of gratitude. We must take the time to reflect and evaluate how we are raising our children so they will be thankful for everything in their lives.
Here are some tips for parents to instill the practice of gratitude in their home:
- Begin at meal time to emphasize the word “thankfulness,” whether you choose to pray, or just express that word prior to eating a meal.
- Teach your children good manners by always saying “thank you,” and “please,” for anything given or received.
- During the holiday season, have your child help you shop and wrap a gift for a child or family by sponsoring them through an agency. Many schools and organizations will “Adopt-A-Family.” This is a very important life lesson. This will help your child learn how to give back and not be focused on themselves.
- Take your child to a soup kitchen or food bank and have them help by serving food and being kind to less fortunate people.
- When your children out-grow their clothes or toys, have them place it in a box and donate it to an organization. Let them draw a picture or write a message to a child or family member to tell them about their favorite toy or a family story about the item they give away.
- “Role-model” any form or act of kindness while you are out in the community with your child. For example, opening a door for an elderly person, carry groceries in for a neighbor, etc. Teach them to always be safe and courteous.
- Teach your older child to help their sibling with homework, doing chores, or something else that they are struggling with. Praise your older child and tell them you appreciate them for being so kind and patient with their brother or sister.
- Show your children how kindly you speak to their father or spouse, grandparents and relatives. By demonstrating the meaning of appreciation and gratitude, its shows your child how to treat others.
- If a relative, child or grandparent is ill, then ask your child to go with you to do whatever they may need help with.
You will find as your children mature, one day you will hear or see your child demonstrate these acts of kindness towards you, your family, and your community. Be patient because it is a developmental process and hopefully they will teach the same acts of kindness and gratitude from generation to generation.