Wednesday, August 19

HOW TO: teach gratitude

An important lesson while growing up is learning to demonstrate gratitude and thankfulness. In a culture of instant gratification, it is important to foster an attitude of gratitude in your child. Studies show that children who engage in grateful behavior have more energy, demonstrate enthusiasm for school, and carry more positive paradigms overall. Here are several tips and activities to engage your child in the concept of gratitude:

  1. Be Intentional - Practice gratitude in your own daily life and lead by example when interacting with your spouse, children, and other adults. Modeling the type of behavior you want from your child is the best way to encourage him or her to follow your lead.
  1. Be Charitable - Show your children what it feels like to be a gracious giver. Encourage your child to clean out his or her room and donate any unneeded items to a local homeless shelter or church organization. Explaining to your child the purpose behind donating items to those who really need them is a great eye-opening exercise in gracious giving.
  2. Be Acknowledging - Encourage your child to acknowledge all that they have been given by frequently discussing what you’re thankful for. Stating that you are grateful for a nice meal cooked by your spouse, time spent with loved ones, money to purchase a new item for the family, etc. will plant a seed of thankfulness as your child begins to identify specific things for which to be grateful.
  1. Be Responsive - Teach your child to respond appropriately to others’ kindness by encouraging him or her to frequently say “Thank you.” Keep a stash of thank-you notes at home and have your child thank others after a gift or service has been given. Grandparents will love getting a handwritten card in the mail after sending a grandchild’s birthday present. Thank-you cards are also great for teachers, coaches, etc. to demonstrate gratitude for their time and commitment. Also see FAIRMONT FIVE: Teaching Good Manners for more etiquette tips.      

Gratitude equates to a positive attitude and optimistic outlook on life. “When kids recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, it helps them develop a healthy understanding of how interdependent we all are - and they may be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect,” says Huffington Post article titled 11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids.

Contributed by Rebecca Stokes, Fairmont Private Schools
Image by Gratitude Habit
Videos by Greater Good Science Center, University of California - Berkeley

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