By Amy Mason
Please learn more about Amy by visiting her website at www.amyemason.com.
As Thanksgiving approaches, we wanted to share with you a few simple ways to grow grateful kids. Isn’t it refreshing when someone says “thank you”? I often find myself surprised and thrilled to get a thank you note in the mail. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to give and receive thanks. There is a wealth of information about why gratitude is important. For a great read on why teaching gratitude to children makes a positive impact, take a look at this article by Ann Voskamp by clicking here.
I know for me, I cringe when my kids act entitled. We’re working on that. I really hope to raise children who are grateful and who express appreciation for what they have. I want them to feel content and full so they can celebrate the possessions and successes of others without feeling lacking and less-than. I hope to help train their brains to look for the good in this world. I’m sharing with you some of what I’m learning and what we’re practicing in our home. Here are some ways that we try to make gratitude part of our family culture.
We try to model gratitude. Sorry Mamas. But monkey see, monkey do. Our kids watch us. I am constantly stopping to assess my own attitude. Do I try to find things to be thankful for or am I looking more at what I lack? It’s so easy to focus more on our problems than our possibilities. We mamas have the power to set the tone in our family. I’m learning that when we need a family change, it often starts with me.
We talk about what we’re thankful for. We ask our kids often what they are thankful for. The dinner table is a great place to talk about gratitude. Ask what was beautiful about today or what made them feel special or what made them laugh. Share your thoughts too. This was awkward at first for us. Once our kids knew we would be asking them to share what they’re grateful for, it will encouraged them to be on the lookout for good things throughout their day.
We say “thank you” a lot. Do you find yourself complaining about what didn’t go right today? Sometimes I catch myself getting negative. When this happens, I try to shift the conversation to focus on the good things that happened to me. There are lots of other ways to verbally express your gratitude. Tell your husband “thank you” for helping. Look your kids in the eye and thank them when they do something kind or thoughtful. Be intentional to thank the people who check you out at the store. These are small actions that have a big impact.
Write a thank you note. A little note is a tangible way to express gratitude. It’s not about a perfect or elegant thank you card, although it can be. You can write words of gratitude in an email to a co-worker thanking them for their contribution on that project. Send a text to your mom to thank her for helping you with the kids. Put a sticky note in your kids lunches telling them you’re so glad thankful they cleaned up their room without you asking. If your kids are old enough, you can encourage them to write thank you notes for gifts they receive. It may seem annoying, but it’s a great way for them to pause and focus on the people and gifts in their lives.
Teach gratitude intentionally. There are so many opportunities to express gratitude if you know where to find them. Think about where your kids can learn to say “thank you.” Maybe you can encourage them to look at their teacher and say “thank you” at the end of the school day. Maybe you can teach them to tell their friend “thanks for having me over today.” And don’t forget, they can say “thanks” to you for that great meal or for help on their homework!
You don’t have to feel like you have to do it all at once! I certainly don’t practice all of these every day! I’ve found it helpful to pick one or two areas that are meaningful to our family and focus on growing gratitude there. Practicing gratitude gets easier over time. Good luck raising those grateful kids! We’re working on it here too and we’re cheering you on!
Mamas, we are so thankful for you. Like we always say, motherhood is a sisterhood and we are so thankful for the support and friendship we have here at Cloud Nine.
Wishing you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving!