Teaching children to be thankful
A recent study indicates that people who have a thankful attitude are generally happier, more optimistic and are less likely to be affected by stress or problems. Want to know how to teach your kids to be grateful for all that they have? Keep reading to find out more...
“Thank you, Mummy!” These are sweet-sounding words from my three-year-old daughter every time I give her what she needs or what she asks for. She also says “thank you” to her dad and to others who does a favour for her. At a young age, I can see that she has learned how to be thankful for every kind deed done to her or for anything that is given to her.
A recent study indicates that people who have a thankful attitude also have higher levels of happiness and optimism and are less likely to be affected by stress or problems. As a mother, it makes me feel so proud of my daughter’s attitude. But mind you, our child’s attitude did not come about overnight. It took time for my spouse and me to instil this attitude in our child.
Here are some simple ways to teach your kids about gratitude and being thankful.
Make saying “thank you” a part of your habit. Let your everyday talk be seasoned with gratitude. In this way your kids picks up that attitude. Say “thank you” to your spouse whether or not your child sees or hears you. Also express appreciation to what your child has done or is doing. Whenever we ask any of our kids to pick up a toy on the floor or to hand out something to us, we would always say thank you after they do what we ask for. Aside from saying “thank you”, you can also praise and show your gratitude by saying: “Good job!”, “Well done” or “I’m proud of what you did just now”.
This could mean asking them to keep their toys, or help out with house chores such as cleaning the table, washing fruits or vegetables to be cooked, and many more. When you ask your kids to take part in the housework, they will also learn to appreciate what mum and dad have been doing for them to make sure that their needs are met on a daily basis.
Explain to your kids that it is part of good manners to express thankfulness to someone for what they have given or have done for them. For younger kids, this takes time to sink in so when someone gives them something or a gift, lead them to say “thank you.”
When your children gets used to saying thank you, the next time you won’t have to tell them because they will initiate doing it on their own. Just like what happened when my eldest child for the first time on her own said, “Thank you for the milk, Daddy.” This really made me and my husband so pleased.
You can establish this during the times when family members gather together such as dinner time. Before you start eating or while eating, each one can take turns to share something he or she is thankful for. Even the little ones can share what they want to thank for. Another practice could be writing a list of what you, your spouse and your children are thankful for. This is similar to counting your blessings, and being thankful for them.
Whenever someone gives you a gift, always write a thank-you note which you can share or impart to your kids. This will help them realise the importance of gratitude.
As a parent, it is normal for you to have the tendency to give all that your child needs but it is unhealthy if you give everything your child wants and asks for. This may cause her to take things for granted, and she may not appreciate what you are giving (or doing) for her. So, to lead your child to realise that not everything she wants or asks will be given, do practice saying “no” to her – at least once in a while.
Consequently, this will also make your child appreciate those times you grant what she longs for.