Growing up, my family didn’t have a whole lot of money. My parents worked very hard, but Christmases and birthdays were never extravagent.
One year, after Christmas, I went over to my friend’s house to check out all her presents. I had gotten one “big” gift that year: the rollerblades I had been asking for and dreaming of for months. I was elated. My friend received rollerblades, too. She also had so many other gifts that the rollerblades were tossed in the corner without even being removed from the box.
I was only twelve or thirteen at the time, but it struck me how little she cared about the piles and piles of gifts she had received. I resolved then and there that when I had kids, they would know how to appreciate what they have.
Thankfully, being short on cash isn’t the key to raising grateful kids! Now that I’m an adult, I recognize that while growing up with less may help you understand the value of of a dollar a bit better, being intentional in how you raise your children is what’s really important.
So, with that in mind, here are some things I have tried to do to make sure my kids grow up into grateful adults.
How to teach children gratitude —
Be an example
Gratefulness is an overall attitude. It’s a habit that spills into every area of life. Our kids will notice it. And they will copy it. I may have been a little more grateful than my best friend all those years ago, but I still have plenty of growing to do in this area. Having littles watching me is definitely a motivator.
A practical way to exude gratefulness is to say “thank you” regularly and at every opportunity. Thank the man who opens a door for you or the kid who bagged your groceries. Thank the nurse at your child’s well visit or the server at the restaurant. Find any excuse to thank your own child for what he or she does for you.
You can also point out the silver lining in just about any situation. When the baseball game is rained out, bring up the fact that you remembered the umbrella and no one got soaked. Or how fun it was to splash in the resulting puddles. You get the idea.
Value hard work
Our kids should be doing chores. It helps them to recognize that they have a role in the family, and it’s not to be constantly doted on. We work together as a family to help the home run smoothly. We do things that we don’t necessarily want to do for the betterment of the whole family.
It’s hard work. And it’s not always fun work. But they’ll experience the work mom and dad do every day, and be better able to appreciate it! [Also read: Chore Charts for Kids (Free Printables) + Why Kids Need Chores]
It’s not easy saying no to our kids when they desperately want something. We want to make them happy. But there is so much value in allowing them the opportunity to earn things for themselves. Whether it’s through special chores at home or patiently saving up birthday money or walking the neighbor’s dog, a child who has to put effort into getting what they want will be much more grateful for it. And they’ll likely take much better care of it, too!
There is certainly a place for gifts. Unearned gifts are a picture of grace and love. The point is, there’s a balance. When you have grateful kids, giving gifts is that much more rewarding for you and your child! [Also read: Teaching Kids About Money — 7 Smart Tips]
Give experience gifts
Toys are temporary. And most of our kids have so many more than they could ever need! Experiences can last a lifetime. Instead of showering your child with gifts on her next birthday, consider putting that money into a day full of fun with her two closest friends. Or taking her to an amusement park. Or throwing a huge birthday bash.
Experience gifts create memories that shape a child. There’s nothing wrong with giving things, by any means! But mix it up with experiences, and your child will begin to recognize how much more valuable life is than “stuff.”Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World | #parenting #family #kids #grateful #gratitude Click To Tweet
Travel or study together
Can we truly grasp how blessed we are as Westerners if we never venture beyond our daily comforts? Visit and learn about places that will open your kids’ eyes to how other people live or used to live. This could include studying our own (or other) country’s history or touring museums, like the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Where could you serve as a family? Think about volunteering. We have some ideas about volunteer opportunities for kids and families here. There are lots of local opportunities, and they’re excellent reminders of how truly blessed we are.
Count your blessings
Even as an adult, I can easily get caught up in what I don’t have. Nothing squelches that ungrateful attitude like counting my blessings. An easy way to do that (for kids and adults) is with a gratitude journal. Any notebook or notepad will do. Just taking the time out of each day to focus on what they’re grateful for can shift your child’s mindset. Have them make a list of three or five things each day–whatever you decide on–that they’re thankful for. For kids, it might be getting to go to a birthday party, a snow day, their pets, a family outing, etc. When they’re having a bad day, help them see that there are still things to be grateful for. It’s a good lesson for all of us.
Our family has a jar labeled “Blessings Jar” in a prominent place in our kitchen. We keep strips of paper and a pen nearby so we can write out a blessing any time we think to. On New Years Eve, we like to empty out the jar and read through all the blessings we had poured out on us over the year. It’s an incredible and humbling experience that often gets us all a little teary.
Counting our blessings does something in all of our hearts, transforming us little by little into more grateful people.
How are you raising your kids to stay grateful?
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