By April Becker

Do you sometimes wish your child was a little more grateful knowing that it will help them grow into a more appreciative and happy adult? Positive Psychology research shows a direct correlation between people that are grateful and people that are happy. Grateful people experience more positive emotions, deal with adversity better and have improved health. If teaching our children to be grateful helps them grow into more happier adults, where should we start? Try incorporating some of the following simple strategies at home on a consistent basis.

Lead by Example. Point out positive attributes and behaviors of others on a daily basis. At the dinner table, discuss positive things that happened to you today or acts of kindness that you witnessed and encourage your children to also share in the conversation.

Have your child start a gratitude jar. Encourage your child each day (or once a week) to tell you about something they are grateful for. Have them write it down on a small sheet of paper (or if they are young you can write it for them) and place the paper in the jar. You can both revisit the jar at the end of the month for review or when they are feeling blue or disappointed about life circumstances you can encourage them to read through the jar of notes.

Promote generosity. Encourage your child to pick one of the toys or gifts they receive for their Birthday or Christmas and donate it to another child that is less privileged. Take your child with you when you make the donation so they can also participate in the process.

Have your child help out more around the house with simple chores. Children will appreciate what you do for them more when they have performed the work and know the labor that is required. For example, include your child in the cooking process for dinner and have them help you clean up after dinnertime.

Have your child volunteer occasionally. A few ideas may include sweeping an elderly neighbor’s porch or pulling their weeds, volunteering at a senior living facility by teaching an arts and craft project your child learned in school, or encourage your child to volunteer at church. 

Be comfortable telling your child “No” to certain things that they ask for. Children do not need to always have the latest toy or video game to satisfy their immediate gratification desires, even if you have the money to purchase the items. It is difficult for a child to learn gratitude if a parent buys them everything they ask for and when they request it. In addition, if you sometimes say “No”, they will appreciate when you say “Yes” a lot more and learn patience along the way.

Teach your child to say thank you and send a thank you note. Be sure to say “Thank you” to others in your everyday life and remind your child to say thank you and write a thank note when they receive a gift or present from a friend or relative. Positive practices shared with children when they are young will often become wonderful habits in their adulthood.

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Written by Cathy Griffin.
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