Do not take anything for granted — not one smile or one person or one rainbow or one breath, or one night in your cozy bed. ~Terri Guillemets
Gratitude is an attitude toward living. Children learn gratitude by watching their parents, teachers, grandparents and other adult role models in their lives. These role models set the tone. Children mirror the values they see on a daily basis. If children are shown and experience the value of gratitude in daily life, appreciation will become a part of their attitude.
Below are four ways to nurture gratitude in children.
Count your blessings every day
Start each morning with a bountiful dose of gratitude, setting the tone for your day as well as that of your children. Your attitude and appreciation of the gift of each day demonstrates that every moment is what you make of it.
- Begin each day with a good morning smile.
- Acknowledge there is another wonderful day ahead.
- Tell the children in your life, “I’m happy that you’re my kid/grandkid/niece/student, etc.”
- Make a habit of beginning the day by listing the tiniest blessings. A bed to sleep in, food to eat, a roof over your head.
- Make a gratitude poster together and hang it where family members or students can see it.
- Make your own gratitude poster and have children add to it each day. Ask them, “What are you grateful for right now?”
2. Practice random acts of kindness
No act of kindness is ever wasted. ~Aesop
Adult role models set examples of gratitude by behaving kindly. Show children kindness in how you act toward them as well as others. Encourage them to participate in your acts of kindness as the situation allows and soon they will exhibit their own random acts.
Some examples are:
- Allow the person with one item to move to the front of you in the grocery store line.
- Let another driver merge in front of you in traffic, or wave and smile when someone does this for you.
- Hold the door for people entering or exiting a store or building.
- Share with others by letting a friend or neighbor borrow a book, tools, etc.
- Help someone in need by bringing them a home cooked meal or volunteering your time.
3. Offer sincere praise
Praise teaches children more about giving and sharing than lectures. As adults, we should extend genuine praise to the children in our lives for their accomplishments.
- Let children know their drawing was colorful or creative, their help was appreciated, their act of kindness was thoughtful.
- Praise is important when a child has a success, resolves a problem or makes a concerted effort.
- Praise them for noticing the beauty and all the wonder of nature and their vivid imaginations.
4. Say ‘Thank You’
Every action and every word has an effect. Be mindful of your attitude and behavior toward family, friends and strangers. Treat everyone with the utmost kindness and appreciation. Children see and mimic that behavior. When adults are liberal with handing out simples “thank yous”, children will follow suit.
Gratitude and happy living go together and bolster the belief that good things have arrived and are still coming.
Comment & Share With a Friend:
How do you encourage and teach gratitude to the children in your life?
Gratitude Mini Journal
This little journal makes for a great gift… fits easily in a purse, backpack, or on a night stand. I feel like the pied-piper of gratitude -keeping a couple on hand to pass along and spreading happy thoughts. Oh, and my kids write in theirs just about every night. ~ Ellen B., Denver, CO
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Excerpt taken from eHow article “How to Cultivate Gratitude in Children” by Judy Ford