In Canada, it is Thanksgiving weekend. We have a lot for which to express gratitude, but sometimes it can be difficult to impart this message of gratefulness to our children. However, there are some things we can do.
Twelve Tips to Teach Gratitude
- Model gratitude – Thank and smile at people such as cashiers, bank tellers, gas pump attendants – anyone who helps us
- Write notes of appreciation, emails etc. to let people know how much you appreciate them and remember them on special occasions
- Have your kids write thank you cards, letters etc. to relatives and family friends who stay in touch with them
- Stick to a monthly allowance system (see my previous post on Allowance and How to Raise Money Smart Kids) for children once they are old enough to understand number-sense. This really helps when all of the inevitable requests that come in for all the items they want. You can then reply that they can save up with their allowance to make their purchase. This also teaches them to budget. They may try to reuse pieces from previous Halloween costumes if they know the next costume has to come out of their budget.
- Create some “above-and-beyond” chores where your child can earn some money to go towards their next planned purchase (raking leaves and putting them in the greens bag, washing and vacuuming cars etc.)
- Assign regular chores which are not paid, so that your child learns about contributing to a family – the “give and take” principle. We all do things to help each other out. Also, your child learns about “work then play” – first you need to do your chores then you can ….
- Volunteer work/Donating to a charity – how can you help others? Perhaps baking for a local shelter or signing up to provide a Christmas hamper for a family-in-need this Christmas
- Having conversations about the truth that there will always be people who seem better off and others who seem worse off, we need to let go of comparing (the Ego mind) and focus on what we do have
- When people are ill or in crisis, create a “care basket” with homemade food and cards
- Perform random acts of kindness – when your children see you do this, it influences them
- Keep a family or personal gratitude journal – there is a lot of research which shows that writing in a gratitude journal on a regular basis increases one’s level of happiness (It can be a family ritual to go around the table and say what one is thankful for and record it in a notebook)
- Encourage all family members to work on being mindful – staying in the present without judgment – this makes jobs such as folding laundry and vacuuming a gratitude experience versus a chore
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, Turn routine jobs into joy and turn routine jobs into joy Turn routine jobs into joy and change ordinary opportunities into blessings“
William Arthur Ward
Gratitude really is an attitude. If we can approach everything with gratitude, even the challenges, even the chores, even people who seem difficult, we can be more accepting, grateful for the moment and realize that we are all on this journey together.
I am grateful to you for being committed to your parenting journey and taking the time to read this blog.
Wishing you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving together,
Sharon Selby, MA, is a Registered Clinical Counsellor, with over 20 years’ experience counseling children and families. She is the author of the children’s book, Surfing the Worry Imp’s Wave, where you can find more information about the strategies recommended in this article. To receive her free ebook: 8 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Your Child is Anxious, go to www.SharonSelby.com/free