You read that right. This is something that even us as adults can forget to do on the daily basis so it is our responsibility to teach our kids. There are days I am having a rough day and I finally take a moment to breathe. Realize that how I'm responding in that specific moment needs to be calmer and it's time to be grateful for what I do have. For example, I had a doctor's appointment today that ended up being cancelled. I was frustrated at first because I drove all the way there to receive the news that I wouldn't be able to be seen after all. Then I quickly realized, you know what it's okay. I will reschedule it and I have the medication that I need so no biggie. It's okay. I drove home and started school work with the kids. I seriously could have let that ONE tiny thing from this morning ruin my entire day. Instead I let it turn into a lesson of gratitude.
Now my sons who range from ages 3 to 13 - teaching them gratitude can be over the head at times or through one ear and out the other. Especially for my 7 year old, Weston. He complains a lot, wants everything to go his way, if he doesn't get it he pouts and gets teary eyed and he just wants, wants more, and wants MORE. It's at the point where I've just about had it and it's mentally draining right? To constantly have to repeat yourself. To tell your child that they need to be grateful and appreciate what they have or what they have just received. Parenting is constant repetition. Sometimes we are at our wits end but I know for a fact Weston will learn how to be grateful and appreciate what he has in his life and stop focusing on the things he wants and doesn't have. They all will. Why? It's important for our children to know good manners, to show they appreciate what was done for them and to be thankful for what they have because a lot of people wish they had it.
I feel like recently, especially in the past year a lot of people have shown their true colors of not having gratitude, compassion, lack of manners, lack of empathy... the list goes on and it is truly sad to see self entitled adults who lack these skills and makes you wonder, are they even teaching their kids if they don't hold these characteristics in their heart? If not, at least I am teaching my children and hopefully they can teach others and it can spread.
I am going to tell you some ways my husband and I teach our sons gratitude and if you need some tips maybe it can help!
- Talking about gratitude DAILY - We don't have hours long conversations but it is something I told the kids I would like to talk about. I told them to wake up in the morning and just say ONE thing you are grateful for because there is always one thing that you can be grateful for, that puts a smile on your face or makes you feel warm and happy.
- Thankful family dinner - At dinner I want to start saying before we eat what are we thankful for. What are we grateful for? What did you do today that made you feel that way? I think this is a great way to engage in conversation with each child, and see how they are feeling.
- Help one another - Our oldest already is really helpful around the house but I recently started having Weston help me with some chores around the house too. Laundry, loading the dishwasher or even sweeping. Same with our 9 year old and the toddlers. The more we do for our kids, especially when it is all the time and things they can do for themselves, the less they will appreciate. There are times I even have them set the table, feed the dog, or put this bottle in the recycling bin.
- Spread kindness and generosity - This is something that you can make fun and simple, and really show your kids to appreciate what you have. We donate clothes, toys that they aren't using anymore and even around the holidays we donate toys as well and we are discussing adopting a family this year for gift donation. This shows them to care for others and I really want them to grow up showing love and kindness to others.
- Saying thank you often - We always tell the kids thank you for even the things. It could be a thank you for remembering to put your cup in the sink or picking up something from the ground instead of stepping over it, because I know you saw it. HAHA! This can show your children to thank people often for their efforts and good deeds.
Gratitude is something that I want to put at the forefront of our family dynamic and show our kids how important and special it is to practice this. It is so simple and easy to do and with daily practice they will understand making it a priority because it will encourage happiness for them and just make them overall better, caring people.