The holiday season is here! They are the seasons of joy and feel good memories, but also the seasons of occasional embarrassment by ungrateful child moments. Through the years my children have had a few of those. At times, they get greedy with a focus on toys, toys and more toys. They have exhibited less-than-graceful gift receiving etiquette. Finally, they have complained ad nauseum about having to attend “boring” dinners and events. All these attitudes trigger a variety of reactions in me from itchy skin to full-on monster mom attacks. Therefore, my husband and I started coming up with different ideas on how to raise our children in gratitude. I am going to share a few of the things that have worked for us.
Helpful Tips When Teaching Gratitude
- We started by evaluating our expression of gratitude. Are we living with a grateful attitude that our children can model? It can be something as simple as saying ‘thank you’ and ‘please’ to them and others. Say it as much as you can and it will become second nature. Ask the children to say it as well.
- We share things we are grateful about with our children. Be specific. Say things like: “I am grateful for you.” “I am grateful for our family, our home, this meal and the ability to have fun and to laugh.” Anything goes!
- We keep a gratitude list and discuss them over family time. Involve the children and encourage them to keep adding to the list. Some people keep journals or a gratitude jar.
- We decided to involve our children in community activities so they see it is not all just about them. In our family, we do three acts of kindness each year around Christmas. The children choose them and I schedule them. The only rule is that we have to do these together. We have done things like volunteering at the animal shelter, reading books to the elderly at the local nursing home, donating toys to a local charity, volunteering with a local charity that will allow children to do some of the work (e.g., organizing toys by age, gender, type) and writing letters to hospitalized children. The experiences have been wonderful and our children have not complained. I can’t wait to see what they will come up this year!
In the end, if you live a life in gratitude your children will see that and will follow. Happy Holidays!
Written by: Dr. Rivera-Spoljaric shared with permission by St. Louis Children’s Hospital
Read more from St. Louis Children’s Mom Docs Here: https://childrensmd.org/