Developing a feeling of gratitude should be an important part of parenting, especially in today’s world of abundance and pampering. Kids should be taught early that nothing can be done in isolation so they should not take things for granted. At the advent of our civilization, a typical day started at the crack of the dawn by taking a dip in the river, thanking river for its life giving properties and then offering prayers to Sun, the source of every kind of life on this planet earth. But somewhere down the line, we lost this sense of gratitude and started thinking about such prayers as needless exercise from the past.
Even grown ups have stopped noticing the good in their lives and concentrate on what we have to achieve, where we have to reach most of the time. We tend to hold out till we achieve something big. Somehow this feeling get rubbed off in the kids too. But for a happy and fulfilling life, its necessary to pause for a while and think about what we already have and how grateful we are for finding joys in small things. We should teach gratitude to kids from early age. I have never given it a thought till now and used to wonder why my daughter was not happy with the goodies she has got. We have never explained to her, what is gratitude and why it is important. Not even from parenting, but gratitude was absent from our own lives. I hardly used to pause and think about gratitude. But I felt deeply distressed the way my daughter used to treat her toys, color books, crayons, skates, story books and clothes. One fine day, my husband told me about the absence of gratitude from our lives. And it got me thinking. I tried to explain to my daughter what gratitude is, and she showed mild interest.
Why Teaching Gratitude To Kids is Important : We love pampering our kids and we always want to have the things we never had as kids. Nothing is wrong in that philosophy. But teach your kids about feeling grateful. Be thankful for what they already have. It is important for their social, physical and emotional well being. Gratitude touches almost all the aspects of our life. It improves health, boosts immune system, reduces stress, strengthens relationships, encourages positive emotions etc. Grateful people sleep better. They have stronger bonding with family and friends because they practice gratitude. As a parent its important for us to teach kids, that they have not achieved anything in isolation. Whatever they are doing, many strangers have worked for that joy and satisfaction. The color book and crayons they are using re the result of hard work of many strangers.
How To Develop The Feeling of Gratitude In Kids : The good thing about gratitude is it can be learned. You don’t have to be born with this feeling. You can teach your kids to be grateful by following many methods.
- Encourage Kids to Maintain a Gratitude Diary:
- Teach Kids to Write Gratitude Letters or Notes
- Be with Mother Nature
- Use Gratitude Stones:
Encourage your kids to write down about things they feel thankful on daily basis. Initially they might need your help but later on they would love to count their blessings. Help them noticing small things such as enjoying a good sandwich, watching birds flying, enjoying a good game with friends, having picnic, kindness of a total stranger or simply watching a good program on TV. Later on they will pick the cue and maintain their diary on their own.
Encourage kids to write gratitude letters or e-mail to the persons they are thankful to but have not expressed their gratitude yet. Encourage kids to write small notes to the concerned person and stick these notes where the concern person can spot those easily. The echo od such gratitude goes a long way.
Sometimes make time from your schedule and take the kids to a park, beach, lake or jungle. Mother nature soothes our nerves and have a tranquil and calming effect on our mind and body. It slows down our process of thinking for better. Teach kids to show gratitude towards the creature of nature according to your religious belief. If you are an atheist, still tell your kids to enjoy and admire the beauty of nature and be thankful for such a bounty bestowed on our planet only. Go for camping and watch stars on the sky unadulterated by city lights.
I use this method with my daughter. She is not interested in maintaining a gratitude diary or journal. So I devised this technique with her. She already has lots of colorful stones of various shapes and sizes. Whenever she feels gratitude, she picks up one stone from the bowl and drops it in another empty bowl. She loves doing that. Sometimes she needs reminding. Sometimes I ask her, after an specific event, if she is feeling grateful for so and so events? She gladly picks up one or two stones and drops those in her gratitude bowl. She made her own additions. Bigger stones means bigger gratitude, smaller ones for small mercies.
One day your kid will grow up and join this giant world. He /She has to face their Waterloos. Feeling of gratitude will be one of best gifts your parenting can give to them to sail through. They will appreciate this and definitely pass on this beautiful gift to their kids too.