In the holiday season, we make time to be present and grateful for blessings, which can help combat the “gimme gimme” mentality that holiday marketing can invoke. But what about the rest of the year?
This Thanksgiving, we’ve got tips to help you cultivate not only thankfulness but a true attitude of gratitude in your children, which we hope will benefit them all year long!
Engage them in the process of gift-giving.
Sure, it’s easier to hit “Buy with One Click” after spending 2 minutes of research on a gift for their friend’s trampoline birthday party. But if you include them in the process in some way-- selecting a budget for a gift, the gift itself, wrapping the gift, making a card or at least writing their name in the card-- it will help them to realize what goes into gift giving. When they realize the money and effort gift takes, they can appreciate their own gifts more.
Share gratitude at the dinner table.
Take time as a family to share with each other what’s gone well and for what they are thankful. You can be a good example by sharing blessings big and small. To motivate everyone to participate, set a timer--like the Time Timer Magnet for your fridge or other kitchen timer--and tell them it will only take a few minutes. Turn off the audible signal because you might find they keep going after time is up (Or it might be they are delaying the broccoli--still a win!).
Let them make choices.
"Half the pleasure in life comes from learning to choose between things."-William Osgood Field This quote is derived from William Osgood Field’s journals. Field was the traveling companion of George W. Vanderbilt, who built the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Due to Vanderbilt’s immense inherited wealth, he didn’t have to make choices. Thus, he always wanted more (and spent almost his entire fortune before he died).
Even if your child was born without a silver spoon in their mouth, they are not shielded from the ungratefulness lack of choices can bring/cause/create. So don’t let them buy both kinds of bubble gum when they can’t decide, or choose two books from the bookstore when you said one. Let them make choices and you’re giving them another kind of gift.
Volunteer as a Family
Helping others, especially during the Holidays, cultivates a generous spirit as children realize their own blessings and discover the joy of blessing others. Ages and stages might dictate how your family can serve, but don’t let that prevent you from this wonderful lesson.
Find ways for your family to share their time and resources with others in need, whether it’s buying a holiday gift for a child from a giving tree or building a house with Habitat for Humanity. Local religious organizations often provide ways to serve as a family, but if your children are too young or the times don't work, get creative: Pick up litter at a nearby park, go shopping for foods you know the local food pantry needs and do yard work or make a meal for an elderly neighbor. Your local United Way chapter also should have some suggestions for family serving. Make time to bless others--together.
Fortnite seems to offer a new skin or dance every day, but that doesn’t mean your child needs it right away. Delaying gratification for the new iPhone or even the latest movie can help cultivate their awareness of the blessings they have and help them appreciate the item more when your child does eventually receive it.
Say Thank You
Whether it’s a written thank you note or email or a verbal compliment, encourage and model for your kids a practice of saying thank you to others for not only gifts you receive but the myriad ways they bless you and your child’s lives. Take every opportunity to give credit to others and help your kids see how others are part of their own successes.
Lead by example
Like most things in parenting, you need to model the behavior you want to see. The best way to raise grateful kids is to be grateful yourself. Need some help? Check out these tips to get you started.