We tell our kids to say “thank you.” We teach them to recite an appropriate list of what they are thankful for at Thanksgiving time. We remind our kids that not everyone is fortunate enough to have what they have.
But, do these things really help our kids experience gratitude? How can we help our kids truly feel grateful?
The answer is simple, free, and takes very little time.
Be grateful yourself.
It’s a simple solution, but not always easy! Stress and frustration are part of life. It’s natural to feel angry, sad, exhausted – and it’s healthy to express those feelings!
It’s also healthy to move beyond them. To acknowledge our feelings, leave them behind and move to a more positive space. It’s healthy to be grateful for what we have – to look on the bright side.
Our children learn from what we say – even when we think they aren’t listening. Our children learn from what we do – even when we think they aren’t watching.
Feelings of stress, anger and frustration are easy for our children to spot. They are loud, tense feelings that can easily grab attention. Gratitude, however, is a softer feeling. We could shout about how grateful we are – but how often do we?
Because of the nature of feeling and how we express them, I wonder if our children see gratitude as often as those “louder” emotions. We grown-ups may feel thankful, but how often do we express it?
I have an invitation for you this holiday season and beyond. Let your children hear you express your gratitude on a daily basis. Let them hear you thank your partner for contributing to your household. Thank your children for contributing.
When you get angry or frustrated, express yourself! Then, let your kids know when you’re feeling better. Let them see you look on the bright side of a tough situation.
Don’t require your children to express their gratitude. Teach by example. Be genuine – and your children will learn to be, too.
Instead of telling our kids to be grateful, let’s show them how.