BloomBrite conducted online painting contest on the theme “Thank You”. There were lot of entries from kids. They participated from various parts of India. They expressed gratitude for their parents, teachers, helpers, soldiers, environment, and God. After going through the paintings, a question kept haunting me. Kids have their studies, play time, story times and hobbies that they love to pursue, then why bother about their attitude of gratitude?
There are published studies that state that by learning gratitude, kids become sensitive to the feelings of others, develop their innate capacities for empathy and altruism. They make more friends, appreciate what they have, show responsibility, and in general more life satisfaction in later life. So, we need to focus on narturing an attitude of gratitude if we want our kids to be happy.
But how can we instill gratitude in children who are naturally self-centered and growing up in an entitlement-driven society? Here are the 5 tips to raise kids with an attitude of gratitude:
1. Model Gratitude: They say kids learn gratitude by seeing others display appreciation in everyday, unplanned moments. You can model gratitude by thanking God in the morning for a beautiful day, for health and happiness, thanking the environment, helpers. Convey your appreciation for others with hugs, words, and small thank you notes. Discuss acts of kindness that you come across, appreciate the good deeds of your kids. Respect people, things, and the environment. Remember the fastest way to boost character is through examples.
2. Appreciate what you have: The ability to know “what is enough” is one of the most important skills you can teach your kids. Through the understanding of this concept kids learn moderation, and self-control. They understand the value of eyes, when you make them interact with blind children. Understand the value of their toys when they see slum kids playing with stones. To learn to appreciate food, shelter they need to come across less previleged ones.
3. Teach Family Values: Many children grow up believing that life is about acquiring money, and material possessions. If your family values hard work, saving money and simple joys, make sure your principles are being communicated regularly. It’s important to involve kids in household chores so that they appreciate the hard work of other family members, and helpers.
4. Celebrate the joy of giving: Receiving gifts can be fun, but make sure your children also recognize the joy of giving. Around the holidays, focus on celebrating the joy of giving. Make visits to relatives, orphanages, organize fund raising drives. Face-to-face experiences can go a long way in helping kids appreciate their blessings.
5. Practice Mindfulness: It’s important to teach kids to stay in the moment. To breathe the fresh air while walking in the park, to appreciate the taste of food while eating a meal, actively listen when someone talks to them, persevere when it comes to adhere to a goal, etc.
You’ve probably heard it said that “happiness is a choice.” While it can be difficult to choose happiness in tough times, research suggests that happiness is, in fact, less the result of circumstance and more the product of our own thinking and habits. When we make our children mindful, aware of their blessings, and inculcate a habit of expressing gratitude, we not only make their path easier and happier, but also pave the way for a better future around us.