Merry Christmas friends! It’s the last day of our Frugal Festivities series and today we’re talking about gratitude. Specifically let’s talk about how to teach your kids to receive with gratitude.
If you’re reading this on Christmas day, then you might have a renewed desire to teach your kids about gratitude after watching them plow through piles of presents. Or you might be appreciating how gracious and grateful your kids have been. Either way, I hope you will share your ideas and your struggles in the comments. I’m no expert, but I want to share what has helped in our family.
Helping kids to feel and express gratitude is something that should last all your long, not just around the holidays. And not just about physical gifts. Helping kids to notice and really think about their opportunities and privileges, gives them a perspective that will lead them to be more appreciative and less entitled. It really is an attitude that we can model and cultivate that will lead to a happier life.
So what can you do? Here are 5 ideas:
As you recognize blessings in your life, point them out to your children. You might have an inner dialogue of “Gee, I’m really thankful that…” or “What a blessing that….” but if your kids don’t hear that dialogue they won’t know. Hearing your daily expressions of gratitude will instill thoughts of gratitude in them.
Let your kids hear you saying thank you for both big and little things. Thank them for the things they do to help your family. Let them see you writing thank you notes and expressing gratitude both to people in person and behind their backs.
When we pray we give thanks out loud for blessings and tender mercies we have received from God. Praying daily both as individuals and as families gives us a chance to reflect on what we are thankful for. We often discuss things we are grateful for before family prayer and will often remind that child who has been asked to be the voice of the prayer, “remember to thank Heavenly Father for…”
Write thank you cards
Help your children write thank you cards for gifts they receive from anyone on any occasion. When you give a teacher appreciation gift, have your child think about the reasons they are thankful for their teacher and express those thoughts in a written card.
Be careful not to give so many gifts so that your children are overwhelmed with stuff and can hardly even remember what they should be grateful for. When we give our kids everything they want, we help breed an entitlement mentality. Sometimes the best way to teach gratitude is to NOT give our kids everything they want, so they can focus on all that they DO have.
I hope these five simple tips help you build grateful character in your children. When children (and adults) truly have an attitude of gratitude they see the world with different eyes. I love the Alphonse Karr quote, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns, I’m grateful that thorns have roses.”
A perspective like this will increase happiness and self worth, and reduce insecurity and entitlement in kids and adults. It may be a good thing to focus on in the new year.