As parents, we can instill gratitude by modeling discipline, patience and intentionality.
It’s not always easy to cultivate gratitude. It is an intentional part of parenting and a valuable trait every family can cultivate.
My young son was looking at me with a sour face. He said, “I wish I could have that Rescue Hero guy.” He was just watching TV when he saw the toy he wanted.
Although it’s fine for children to express their desires and needs, this child had just celebrated his birthday and had received more than a dozen gifts. We also spent the weekend at a waterpark.
My boy was able to see that he had much more than he needed and many things to be thankful for. I then realized it was time to deliberately nurture his gratitude. We knew it would be difficult in this me-centered world.
Have a Gratitude Attitude
My husband and I needed to be mindful of our own behavior in order to foster gratitude in our children. We started to notice the ungratifying messages that we were sending. It was difficult to accept that sometimes our impatience and discontent presented the wrong picture to little eyes.
We communicated a negative spirit when we focused on the faults of other family members. We as a family needed to practice gratitude and appreciation 24 hours a day.
Did you know that when you encourage gratitude in your child, you are improving his or her health? Here are five other ways that we tried to instill and nurture gratitude within our children’s hearts:
1.Allow delayed gratification
To combat entitlement, teach your children to work hard for what they want.
We set them up for saving, and they achieved their goals. We had to resist their requests to borrow money to buy something they wanted, even though they had already earned money.
It allowed our children to feel delayed gratification when we asked them to work for money in order to purchase a more expensive phone than we gave. Participating in the purchase gave them a stronger sense of ownership and helped them understand the value of money. They also felt a sense of accomplishment.
2.Encourage gratitude in others by encouraging them to think about others.
It is easy to take other people for granted. Our children were encouraged to keep in touch with their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, as well as family, friends, and neighbors.
They were able to think of others.
We encouraged one of our children to call his grandparents when he came home with straight A’s on his report card or won a game. We also encouraged our children to draw pictures for their aunt, who was having a difficult time.
We helped our children see beyond themselves and encouraged them to be more compassionate. This led to a greater appreciation for gratitude and gratitude.
3.Our Blessings are Counted
We tried to remember the things that we are thankful for as often and as often as possible.
It is easy to include things that you are grateful for in bedtime prayers. Your children will learn to be thankful in all situations ( 1 Thessalonians), and they will develop a greater appreciation for the blessings God gives them every day.
A car game was another way to do this. We used the alphabet to express our appreciation for each other as we drove. We might use the letter A to say, “I appreciate you asking me how I feel.” Or B, “I love when you play with me.” C was “Thank you” for cooking with us. This road game encouraged our children to appreciate more than criticize one another.
Parenting can be both difficult and enjoyable. Parenting is both challenging and fun.
4.Send Thank You Notes
We would host thank-you parties for them when they were old enough and able to write.
Some simple fill-in-the-blank thank-you cards were helpful for my preschoolers.
We would ask our children to fill out the names of the people they are thankful for and the items they are grateful for after Christmas or birthdays. The hot chocolate was made, festive cookies were served, Christmas music was played, and we sat around the dinner table, writing thank-you notes for gifts from extended families and friends.
Our text-oriented culture makes it difficult for our children to take the time to write a handwritten thank-you note. This forced them to stop and reflect on their appreciation. They were reminded that they were the beneficiaries of another’s generosity.
These fantastic ideas will get you and your children started
5.Daily, say “Thank You!”
It became second nature to say thanks.
We thanked everyone as we went along our daily lives: the restaurant waitress, the grocery store cashier, and the bus driver.
We also expressed our gratitude to each other. We also thanked our children for performing their chores without asking. My husband and I thanked each other. We discovered that our children were more likely to say “thank you” when we were around them than when we were away.
A Culture of Gratitude
I went to Tanzania several years ago. I thought the people we met had very little. But their gratitude was a different story. They quickly replied, “I have a roof above my head, food in the stomach, and a God that loves me.”
I wonder how many people would agree with me? I pray that the seeds of thankfulness planted within my children’s hearts will blossom into full-blown gratitude for their Savior as well as for all those around them.