Don’t forget to say your please and thank yous.
How many times do we hear that in a lifetime?
What does it mean to give thanks?
Saying thank you says good manners for sure but teaching children to truly be thankful is an art. We’ve been trying hard to perfect that art in our house.
Gratitude, showing up for people when they are in need and kindness are not easy to pass along to some children. Our twins are polar opposites in this department. One is a natural. The other, well, let’s just say it’s a learning curve for her at times. She demonstrates all of these character traits but at times they slip her mind. But, she’s only 6 so she has some time yet.
Because of this, we try and stress the importance of grateful hearts each day. Here’s a few of the ways we do that. Please share your own ideas below in the comments.
Be a Gratitude Role Model. When you spend every night writing all your blessings into a journal, you’re bound to pass along the gratitude basket to your children. Saying these blessings out loud to them only reinforces this type of modeling. “I’m so happy you are in my life.” “I’m so honored to have good friends.” “Your Dad is the best Dad in the world.” “I am so grateful to get to spend my day with you.”
Simplicity matters. Keep things simple and children are bound to start noticing the little things in life. We don’t have a lot of fancy things. We only just got our first big-screen TV this year and that was a really big deal. When we bought our newish minivan, it was another really big deal. We aren’t splashy. We aren’t contrived. We just live and try to make a difference in our community every day. The rest is a bonus. We are passing this along to our children delicately while also helping them achieve their own dreams.
Talk about the world. Talk about how the rain is important to the flowers. Talk about how we get our food. Talk about the importance of Sunday morning pancakes. Talk about what matters to your children. Help them see the world from a different perspective. Help him understand that things on the other side aren’t always how they appear and that we must be thankful for what we have and not yearn for what others have. Help your children see life from all sides. Be grateful for it all.
Teach actions. Saying thank you is fine. It is. But in these busy, crazy times of social networking and little connection to real people, it’s important to teach children to SHOW UP and give thanks. Have them write out their thank yous daily in a journal. Call instead of emailing. Give cookies to the school janitor.
Give thanks. For all children, writing or drawing a picture of the things they are thankful for is a great way to get them thinking about being thankful. For the ones not quite ready for that kind of daily devotion, a simple bedtime ritual works wonders. Ask your child what she is grateful for today? Share your own idea or two with her as well.
Make cards. Every now and then, I buy blank cards and let the girls go crazy with decorating them anyway they want. We send those cards to the people in our life that need a lift. Thank you cards are a lost art that some of us really wish we could get people to spend more time on. Make a card. Give thanks daily. Spread joy weekly.
CALL TO ACTION: Work with your children on a daily gratitude journal. Take a photo and upload their drawings to my Facebook page. Or, post them on your own blog!