How to Teach Children to be Grateful

jfk-gratitude

Can children and teenagers be grateful? Yes and it might be easier than you think.

‘Teenagers!’ the parent said in a raised voice as he threw his hands up in the air. He was lost as to how to communicate with his son and it revealed the greater problem the parent was having of raising a teenager in today’s world. It is unfortunate that when people think of teenagers they think of a negative experience they had or they are reminded of many failed attempts to communicate or reach out to their own children.

I have worked with junior high and high school students for about twenty years and I can write with confidence that teenagers are not as bad as one might think. They have brought a joy and provided me with many wonderful lessons to better myself. If you allow yourself to be aware in the moment then you may be surprised at the different lessons youth today are teaching today. However that is besides the point of this blog post.

How can we teach children and teenagers to be grateful? It is easier than you might think.

  1. You are the Model. Whether you are aware or not we are all teaching one another all the time. Your children are watching and you are teaching them how to act in the world and in situations. If you are a grateful person then they will pick up on it. If you tend to lose your cool then they’ll witness it as well.
  2. It is more than saying thank you. It is a lifestyle. Therefore, develop a time in your day to stop and be thankful. I personally have a gratitude journal and I write about the people, things that are a blessing to me.
  3. Teach various forms of thankfulness. Take your child with you to the store to purchase thank you notes and teach them the importance of it. If you are buying a gift then explain it to them. This may seem obvious but common practice is not always common sense. Often we might think ‘oh I won’t bother them they are busy.’ There is always time for a teachable moment. How else will a youth learn if not taught and explained to them.
  4. Take a Time Out. When you feel overwhelmed at any point in any given situation then stop. When we feel overwhelmed that is our body and mind telling us to take a break. We need to listen to that. Instead of continuing in that moment we can pray, meditate or even reflect on things we are grateful for. By doing this you will be able to come back to the present moment and enjoy it for what it is.

Your kids will go as you go. I understand parents are busy in today’s world however if you do not have a moment to stop and teach then you are just too busy. Thanks for reading.

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