How do you teach your children to be grateful?
Gratitude can be a tricky concept for young kids to understand. What are ways to teach your children to be appreciative and thankful for what they have?
First, I show my son the mail with charities asking for money for children with cancer, diabetes, etc. He knows I donate to charities, because I believe God wants us to help others when we can. He also donates his old clothes and toys to charities, because he has been taught that there are many other children who don't have access to the "extras" that he does. We also discuss poverty, and we occasionally drive through neighborhoods of those less fortunate, so he can remember that there are those less fortunate, and dealing with hard circumstances. We aren't rich, but we are middle class, and it has always been important for him to know that he cannot have everything he wants. He has learned to save his allowance to purchase things he wants, and he works for extra money if there's something special to him. We try hard to ensure he sees us living in a way that reflects this, rather than just something we preach.
My son decided to start breaking toys and not say thanks when he received gifts (3 years old). So I packed all his toys in boxes and took it to my car - screaming child in tow - and told him that if he does not want to appreciate it I will give it to other children who will. I did give it back after lots of crying and many apologies from him. Had to do it once more and now we are on level ground concerning appreciation.
I also think a good way is when your husband or boyfriend take you both out somewhere you say thank you to him and say I really appreciate you taking us out right in front of the child and then have the child say thank you also to him. Showing appreciation to other people in front of your children is a good example that you are setting in front of them.
I say monkey see monkey do? If your child sees you do it maybe he/she will understand why you feel grateful. And also explaining who what where and why. I am not at that point yet though I am just assuming.
Each night before bed we read books and say prayers together. During our prayer we talk about all the things we are grateful for and how much we are blessed.
Your children learn from you. If you show that you are grateful then the act will pass it's self along to your children. Teach them young to always say thank-you and you're welcome. If you do this you just might be rewarded with greatful children.
Ensure they say thank you for a gift and when someone spends time with them. Don't allow them to return a gift to a store unless they are getting a different size or color of the same item. Teach them to find a way to like the item if they declare they don't like it. Teach them to figure out why someone gave them something they didn't like...is there a reason? Have them thoughtfully pick out gifts for others, and ask them how important it is to them that the person like that gift. And bring it back around to point out the importance of finding a way for them to appreciate/like all gifts given to them. Eventually incorporate someone's time as a gift to appreciate too.
Im reading a lot of comments about please and thank you. But I don't think saying please and thank you is actually being grateful. Its habit and it is a part of having good manners. Kids are grateful when they feel grateful. That is not some thing you can put inside someone. I do think not spoiling a child will help them be grateful for the things they have or the things you do. Showing them people who struggle, teaching them to donate and volunteer. Homeless shelters are not necessarily the best environment for young children, but feeding the poor, cleaning up a run down neighborhood, habitat for humanity, things of that nature help open up their eyes to what goes on outside of those privileged 4 walls they call home. When i was growing up I was spoiled around Christmas time and my birthday. Spoiled meaning, I expected things to come my way during these times of the year. Now although I was happy that I got the things, I was not necessarily grateful for them. I was more grateful when my mom & dad did things for me and surprised me with thing outside of these times. I notice that my 5 y/o is grateful when I get her something she asked for months before I purchase it. She takes care of it better she values it more, this includes toys, snacks, treats etc. When she asks for something @ the store just b/c she sees it & I get it, she says thank you but if she is acting up and I threaten to toss it, she could care less, b/c she is not grateful in that situation. As far as teaching them to say please & thank you.....my 12 month old has been saying thank you since she was 10 months old....b/c that's what she was taught, bot because she is truly grateful
When my children are ungrateful for something, I always remind then, "Be grateful for what you get, not what you don't get" and I might go on to explain things further with regards to that specific situation. My son has that sentence memorized now and finishes my sentences for me. I love it!
You may want to check out Aaron Nigel Smith's new song "Grateful" (with guest star Dan Zanes. Until August 17th , you may obtain a free download of the song from here: http://soundcloud.com/bethbcpr/04-grateful-featuring-dan
and you may get more information about the song and Aaron's One World Chorus project here: www.aaronnigelsmith.com