One of the stumbling blocks that I have often encountered in my journey as a mother, is that my children are never grateful for what they have. As soon as I buy them a toy, they start demanding for another toy. Not only is this frustrating (and expensive) but I do wonder ‘Will they ever be happy with what they have?’ You might say children are always greedy, they are always ungrateful! But as a parent you do not want your child to remain ungrateful throughout his/her life. I believe that teaching children to be grateful is important as it is a way to happiness and contentment.
Benefits of being grateful
Whether it is an adult or a child, every person should be grateful for what they have. Being grateful brings a lot of positivity in an individual’s life and therefore you will be :
- Less depressed
- Less envious
- Less materialistic
- Less anxious
- More positive
- More happy
- More content
Overall, they would be more happier in their life, if they are grateful. Even as an adult, when they are faced with a difficult situation, the habit of being grateful will help them .
How do you teach your child to be grateful
It is not easy to teach children to be grateful. But if parents make an effort, then it can have an impact on the overall thinking/mindset of the child .
Please and thank you
My husband and I insist that every time the children ask us for something they have to say ‘ please’, even if it is just for a glass of water and a ‘thank you’ after it is given to them. I know in this fast life, parents might not have time to insist on please and thank yous, but it is very important that the children appreciate every thing the parents do for their children.
Making kids realise how privileged they are
Whenever we go to India, I show/explain my children how underprivileged the poor children living in shanties and slums are. I make my children realise how privileged they are – they have a home, clothes, food, toys etc. If you can take your children to visit soup kitchens or children’s homes and explain to them how fortunate they are compared to people in soup kitchens or children in children’s home.
Limit the number of toys, books, clothes you buy
I know as a parent we would like to provide “everything possible ” for our child. “I will give my child everything I didn’t have in my childhood”. I don’t believe in this. How would you teach your child how to be grateful for what he/she has got? The important question you have to make your child ask herself or himself is “do I really need this?” If the answer is no, don’t buy it !
Make sure your children finish all the food on their plate and they do not waste any food. If required give them a slightly lesser quantity if overeating is an issue. Avoid throwing food in the bin. Explain to them that there are lot of people starving in this world, so we shouldn’t be wasting food.
Set an example
As I have mentioned in my previous posts, parents have to always set an example for their children. Children always copy their parents. If they see their parents leading a modest life, buying things only if needed, then they will do the same.
For very young children
If your children are very young, you can teach them a few games to teach them gratitude. For example, each day or each week at the dinner table tell them to say one thing which gave them a lot of happiness on that day. Make sure you participate in the game as well.
If your child can write, they can keep a gratitude journal and write all the good things that happened to them on a daily basis.
In some religions, it is a custom to say a gratitude prayer before you eat your meal.
Make them earn it
If children ask for toys, don’t just give it to them. Make them earn it. Either through good behaviour or helping with household chores. Only give the toy if they pass the test of good behaviour.
Don’t hesitate to say no
If they ask for toys which are very expensive or you feel that they don’t need it or they are too young for it, say ‘no’. It is hard for some parents to tell their children I won’t buy it for you but you have to do it to teach your child gratitude. Children shouldn’t get toys or games that they demand for, very easily. It doesn’t matter whether the parent can afford to pay for it or not.
Re- use or share
If you have got more than one child, make them share or re-use toys or clothes. Don’t buy two or three or four of everything. Being very close in age and similar in size, my sister and I used to share clothes in our childhood.
Make them help with chores
Make your children help with chores, fold clothes, cut the salad, wash the plates. From an early age, make them clear up their toys every night before they go to bed.
Explain to them why
Always explain your actions to your child. Don’t make them feel that you are being mean or unjust to them. Teach them not to be greedy- to be happy with what they have. Make them choose toys or clothes to give to charity. Make them ‘share’ their toys and clothes with poor children.
Show them how much poverty exists in this world
There are lot of images and you tube videos available on the internet through which you can show how poor children live, starving children in Africa who do not have clothes or food or clean water to drink or schools to go to! When parents teach their children gratitude, it will be a good reminder to them as well that it is so important to be always grateful with whatever you have. At least it was to me!
Do you have any tips or stories to share about gratitude? Please put them in the comment box below. I will be happy to hear from you!