Exploring gratitude with your child is about more than teaching them to say please and thank you. It’s also about more than being grateful for material things. It’s about appreciating the things which really matter. Nature, kindness, a hug, a tree, or a puppy – these are the things which children really love and when taught to express their gratitude, children will notice more of the naturally positive elements in life. The free elements are always the best ones because they do not rely on money or status. This private school in New York rewards kindness first and academic achievement next – this is a great way to cement the idea of gratitude in children because to be grateful, we must first be kind.
Teaching gratitude is about helping children to be mindful of all the small but wonderful things we encounter every single day – to notice them and be thankful. Small children are naturally vocal about the things they enjoy. They will see a lovely flower and comment on its beauty and stop to enjoy its scent. Similarly, they will be thrilled with a new an exciting toy or activity. As they grow, this initial joy in life naturally fades a little – one flower becomes the same as the others.
To keep this spark of natural gratitude it’s vital that you as their parent, display your own gratitude daily. Whether it’s a wonderfully sunny day or a wet and windy one, share your pleasure with your child. Tell them how fantastic the rain is because it’s good for the garden and you love puddles. This habit of looking on the bright side can certainly be learned and taught. Always remember to thank your child – not only for tasks they’ve completed but for a song they’ve sung or a picture they’ve drawn. These habits will become ingrained in them and as a result, they will be a more positive and healthier person.
Use dinner time or car journeys as an opportunity to chat to your family about things that each of your are grateful for. Get the ball rolling by starting first; it could be something as simple as a colleague making you a cup of tea that day at work. Demonstrate to your child that it’s perfectly normal to notice even the littlest of things and be grateful for them.
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