Raising Grateful Kids

I’m not a parenting specialist or a doctor, but I am a mom of three beautiful kids, and three grandkids. Teaching children to be kind, generous, grateful, and thankful during the holidays is often a lesson that is taught throughout their entire lives. I’m certain that every single parent already knows these tips. However, given the fact that it is the holiday season, I write kids and Ya books, I thought I’d share some of the things that help teach kids to be thankful year-round.

Like any skill or habit, helping our children develop a sense of gratitude in life takes practice. The more our children develop a habit of being kind, polite and thankful, the more it’ll become ingrained into their character. Helping them become aware of how blessed they are in their lives won’t come overnight. They need to see, understand, and take in everything happening around them to develop a sense of gratitude and act accordingly.

If you are a parent, here are a few tips that help to teach kids how to be thankful and appreciate their surroundings:

Lead by Example

Like it or not, as parents, we’re in the spotlight 24/7.  Our kids look up to us, learn from us, and pick up our gestures, opinions, mannerisms, etc. We hope that they’ll forgive us and bypass some of our worst characteristics (if we yell, use inappropriate language, and whatnot). Their learned behavior, mental and emotional development, development of their central attitudes, and core values, are our primary responsibility as parents. It is why one of the most important things that we can do is to help them grow into sensible, sensitive, kind, and aware individuals- lead by example. It seems so simple, but often we forget that little eyes and ears are watching and listening to us.

Expose them to Reality

Helping our kids understand how things are outside of their world can assist with a healthy attitude towards exposing them to reality. Working in shelters in your community, soup kitchens, and local churches, and taking your children with you, teaches them that others may not be as fortunate as them. Educate them by talking and reading to them and introducing them to real life. Those not as fortunate as others, have stories, lives, and are just as important as the next person. Being down on your luck does not mean that you are less of a person in anyone else’s eyes.

Moderation is Key

Earning the things that kids want or like, teaches them the value of money, and to make choices about the material goods that they choose to spend their own money to purchase the item. Constantly purchasing kids what they want, never saying no, does not help them understand the value of working toward something you want – by teaching them to earn the funds for their own items, they learn to become grateful and appreciate how hard they worked to purchase said item. Often they value the item more than if we as parents had just bought it for them direct.

Teach them to Be Generous and Share

Sharing is caring as they’d say. Real generosity often means empathizing with other people’s situations, understanding them, and giving everything in your power to help those less fortunate. Kindness and generosity towards others is a massive step towards sharing gratitude.

When you start teaching your children real values early on, you are giving them the opportunity to recognize the opportunity to be grateful throughout life. Educate them early on in this area, and you’ll see beautiful individuals develop right before your eyes. Sometimes it is a constant lesson, but it is always worth it.

Happy Holiday Season.

Amanda M. Thrasher