Raising Grateful Children

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The week after the holidays often feels like a let down, leaving kids disappointed that the fun is over, the new toys are losing their luster and there is nothing to look forward to. Getting kids to say an obligatory “thank you” can often be hard enough, but how does one go about instilling the idea of gratefulness in children?

According to Christine Carter, director of the Greater Good Science Center Parenting Program at UC Berkeley, and author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents, being grateful has a plethora of health benefits including having more energy, sleeping better and feeling more connected to others, and it’s important to help kids learn how to be grateful from a young age.

How can parents and Nannies turn the tables and help kids realize that they need to be grateful for everything they’ve just enjoyed during the holidays?

Here are a few tips:

  1. Talk about each gift your child received at Christmas, and discuss the thought that the giver put into it. For example, explain how grandma knows how much your child loves the color purple, and that’s why she bought the purple sweater, etc. This way, kids will begin to understand that receiving a gift isn’t just about getting more stuff, it’s a thoughtful way that people can show their appreciation and love.
  2. Practice daily gratefulness. Each night before bed, ask your child to name three things that they are grateful for. Remind them that it can be anything, large or small. Explain that there is no right or wrong answer and be sure not to contradict any of their answers—being grateful for anything is okay.
  3. Be mindful of expressing your own gratefulness. Don’t forget that your kids will learn to express gratefulness from you. If you receive a gift you don’t like, be grateful. If your child “tries” to help in the kitchen but ends up making a mess, be grateful. If your partner goes to the grocery store but buys the wrong brand of toilet paper…you guessed it.

How do you encourage your children to show their gratitude? Please share with us in the comments.

Photo Credit: Jessica Lucia/flickr

 

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