The holidays are a perfect time to say thank you – to family, friends, teachers, the postman…anyone who makes your life easy, interesting, FUN! This news caught my eye as timely in offering top tips on how to instill gratitude in your kids.
Project Grateful Generation:
How—and Why—to Instill True Gratitude in Your Kids
According to Authors Andrea and David Reiser (Letters from Home), “Sincere gratitude seems to be dying out in America, but it’s a trend that can be reversed by involved parents.” Gratitude, they say, goes beyond saying “thank you” — it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.
The fruits they’ve seen grow from instilling basic life values—like gratitude—in their own household inspired Andrea and David to write Letters From Home. Written in the form of letters to the authors’ four sons, the book explores 15 basic American virtues that built our country and that foster individual and familial success.
Here are some quick tips, edited for your quick reading pleasure (!) on how to instill gratitude at home…
Don’t just count your blessings—name them. Have a minute of thanks in the morning—you and your kids can each name a few things you’re thankful for. Whether the list includes a favorite toy, a good grade, or a hug from Grandma, this tradition will start the day off in a positive frame of mind. “Alternately, you can have a minute of thanks at dinner; it makes for pleasant mealtime conversation,” David suggests. “And if you have older kids, encourage them to keep a gratitude journal and write down a few things they were thankful for each day before going to bed.”
Be a grateful parent. As most parents know, the way you treat your kids affects their development much more than the rules you set. When it comes to gratitude, tell your kids why you’re grateful to have them….and do it often.
When your child wants something, make him pitch in. (Don’t be the sole provider.) If your child receives an allowance (or, for older kids, has a job), think twice before letting him pocket every last penny. If he wants a new video game, bike, or even to go on a trip with friends, ask him to help save for those things himself.
“Depending on the amount of your child’s weekly allowance or how much he makes mowing lawns on the side, you may still end up footing a majority of the bill yourself,” David admits. “And that’s okay—after all, you are the parent. The point is, though, that your children will be active participants in working toward what they want. When they understand the real value of a dollar, they’ll be more likely to appreciate what you and others do for them.”
Keep a stack of thank-you cards on hand. Insist that your kids use them often. By and large, sending out thank-you notes is one of those arts that seems to be dying. Don’t let that be the case in your house. Send out regular thank-you notes—definitely when your child receives a gift, but also to teachers at the end of the school year, for example, and to Little League coaches and ballet teachers.
Insist on politeness and respect all around. When your kids treat other people with dignity and respect, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the ways in which those folks contribute to and improve their own lives. They’ll be less likely to take assistance and kindness for granted, and more likely to value it as much as it deserves.
Look for teachable moments. Yes, it’s important to have conversations about values with your children on a regular basis—but be aware that from time to time, situations that illustrate your point perfectly will arise. Be prepared to use them as the powerful teaching aids that they are.
Find the silver lining. We’re all tempted to see the glass half-empty from time to time…and kids are no exception. When you hear your child complaining or griping about something, try to find a response that looks on the bright side. It’s called an “attitude of gratitude” for a reason—it’s about perspective more than circumstance.
Here’s a picture of the Reisers’ latest book – great holiday gift – now on our Mom-Tastic bookshelf – love the sandcastle!
Editor’s Note: Great tips! Thank you! 🙂 Here’s a MomTini Challenge – see if you can have a “gratitude showcase” at dinner where you go around the table, and everyone says something they’re most thankful for? And how about asking everyone to thank someone at the table for something nice they did lately? Guaranteed to bring smiles and warm fuzzies for all…What ideas do you have for instilling gratitude at home?