Saying thank you is one of our early life lessons. A thankful attitude towards other people remains as one of the first social rules that many parents teach their children. How to raise a grateful child and would you like to do that? For me, I say yes! And I know it’s hard for you moms to refuse! A lot of family specialists acknowledge gratitude as a basic trait of a healthy family.
Why should we raise a grateful child?
Most of us take it for granted when saying thank you anytime we receive help. However, have you ever thought about the real meaning of your “thank you”? And why should parents teach their children to say “thank you” when needed?
“Thank you”, in fact, is a representative of gratitude. And more than a behavior, gratitude refers to an internal experience, which lets us help children cultivate.
By teaching our children about the value of gratitude, we want our kids to be appreciated. We teach them that they shouldn’t take things for granted. Also, learning to be grateful can help enhance our kid’s relationships, their ability to empathize, and more than anything – their happiness. As they are taught about gratitude, your kids can show appreciation to other people.
Sometimes, my little girl grumbles: “You never buy me anything, you don’t love me”. As a mom who love her by all my heart, I found these words too hard to hear. And I asked myself: “Don’t I love my child?”, “Am I not giving enough for her?
I love my child! And I look back to realize that all basic needs of her are now met. The only thing is just I’m not meeting all the demands for her leisure.
I choose to be mean mom and I admit this! I accept being a mean mom rather than an extravagant one just because I want to let my kids be appreciated and happy about what they have!
Though I’ve got a consistent decision, I can’t help thinking of my daughter’s words. What she said makes me realize that I need more effort in teaching my girl about gratitude. Right from their early ages, children should be taught to feel thankful and appreciate the hard work we do to raise them and provide for their needs.
Benefits of teaching kids about gratitude
Get to know its benefits before knowing how to raise a grateful child! Raising kids into grateful people is not easy. But it brings several benefits, both for us and our children.
- Gratitude makes kids feel happier
- Since gratitude is proven to enhance physical and mental health, it helps improve kid’s overall well-being
- Grateful kids are more optimistic and less self-centered
- Gratitude keeps kids stay resilient in hard times
- Gratitude reduces jealousy and the demand to have “more”
How to raise a grateful child?
1. Stop complaining
Remember, kids are just like sponges. They can easily absorb everything they hear and see. Sometimes, I hear my kids saying the words they pick up from their friends or adult even when they’ve heard it only once.
And I think back to many times I’ve complained so much in front of my child. For me, it’s a habit to complain about normal life events such as traffic or weather. But what messages have I passed onto my little ones? It seems meaningless.
And sadly, our kids begin to learn to complain about different silly things in life. They get angry about all of them. I know it’s not easy to change an old habit. But, as a parent, try to reduce your complaints and be mindful of the words you speak. It would be better if we parents can focus on reframing every negative situation.
You can still talk about weather but in another way. For example, you may say: “I love this rainy weather as this gives me more time to be with you”, instead of complaining that it’s raining so hard to go out.
Try to use the word “thank you” more frequently, even if it’s to your family or when you receive support from others. Your gratitude conveys your appreciation to what people do and it means that even a small good deed is valuable.
2. Model thankfulness
Normally, parents usually demonstrate more daily gratitude when they are teaching their kids about this behavior. Besides, parents who are more thankful can also engage in other types of parenting behaviors to foster gratitude.
In fact, our kids can completely express their gratitude regardless of whether they experience it deeply. They may learn to show their appreciation without their underlying experience. And for this problem, I recommend the key to teaching kids to develop the gratitude habit: NOTICE-THINK-FEEL-DO. Modeling this way is super vital for parents to teach their kids about gratitude.
For example, your child has just received a gift from Dad. What you need to do is not just teaching them to say thank you Dad, you should also tell him about the deeper meaning behind the gift. Here you can tell your child your own experiences of receiving: “I love the skirt that your aunt sent me, but what’s really meaningful to me is that I know she was thinking of me when buying it. It reminds me that she loved me enough to go several miles to get something she considers I will surely love”.
3. Teach your kids to reframe every negative situation
Napoleon Hill, a famous American writer, once said: “Every adversity carries with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”. I love this quote so much and think of this anytime I feel ungrateful.
Yes! Gratitude is a great virtue to possess. For parents, teaching gratitude to kids is necessary since the kids learn to grow with a more positive attitude towards life. And it would be precious when kids can find happiness even in difficult life situations.
Gratitude is such a good virtue that I wish I could learn long before in my life. Since I determined the importance of gratitude, my life began to get better. I found happiness in small things in life. And I need to say “thank you” to difficult situations, which make me such a strong woman today.
For example, when your daughter complains about not having the same toy as her friend, you can say: “Your toys are pretty and lovely, right? Remember, you are having toys that she doesn’t have”. Or when your son complains about the cold weather and insists that he hates winter, you can say: “I know you hate cold weather, but I am happy and grateful that we can afford to buy enough winter clothes to help you keep warm”.
4. Teach them the value of hard work
To determine how to raise a grateful child, we cannot forget to let him understand the value of hard work. Creating an age-appropriate chores list for your kid from a young age is one of the effective ways to develop his appreciation for the works others are trying to do.
At their early ages, your child cannot understand the value of hard work when they just hear about it. The best teaching method is to let them experience. And let’s engage them in any chore around the house which is proper to them. Consider this age-appropriate chore guideline to find a helpful way!
Teach your kids about both hard work and all the people who are making every effort to contribute to society like farmers, vendors, doctors. For example, during the hardest time of the world due to COVID-19 pandemic, you can help your child understand how much doctors have tried to cure people. Parent during pandemic is vital this time!
You teach your child about how the food they eat can reach the table, the different steps to making food, the hard work of different people involved, and last but not least, say “thank you” for it.
5. Teach them delayed gratification
Technology makes our lives faster and easier. And I love it. Thanks to the support of high technology, I can do so many things in my life much better.
However, it has some limitations. Some studies indicate that people in modern life are getting more impatient. They desire everything to be “now” rather than “later”. For that reason, I decided to limit the screen time for my kids. This is also what productive moms usually do. As we are addicted to the Internet and some social media, we get used to the “instant gratification” culture. Accordingly, we become more impatient.
You may find it irrelevant but in fact, it’s worrying. We all want to raise kids who are willing to learn much and work hard to achieve their goals. And the good result always takes time. It requires patience and waiting to get what they want.
6. Do this instead of giving them rewards
On finding how to raise a grateful child, pay attention to the rewards you are going to give your kids.
Sometimes, we like to give our kids some reward to encourage them to do good things. But this doesn’t mean we should do this all the time. Give them rewards based on their achievements.
For example, you can use good words to encourage your children and appreciate their efforts. In this situation, they will still be happy even without material reward.
Amy McCready, an author, and parenting coach suppose that you should not depend on any external factors to give kids an allowance. Instead, parents should give allowance to teach kids about money management as well as develop their independence.
Just think. When your kids are paid to do chores, they might think they are doing it to receive money and not willing to do it when you are not there to supervise them.
However, when they do it as a sense of duty, it means they can appreciate the work their parents have to do to run the household chores everyday.
With age-appropriate allowance for kids, you can get benefits. Your child can save money from that allowance to buy something they want. This means, rather than having your child’s desire fulfilled instantly, let them learn to work and wait till they get it.
Well, it’s not a challenge at one for you to hand over the cash to make the purchase, but you can hesitate. Kids may never get to know the pleasure of earning something until they work hard.
Out there, you can find much more advice on how to raise a grateful child as well as foster gratitude in children. The process is not easy. It can be overwhelming for all of us as parents. My advice is that you should pick one thing to work on until it becomes a habit and then build from there. Keep patient and wait for good signs from your kids.