Gratitude is a virtue that is taught. We come into this world utterly selfish beings. At first, we only give in ways that bring good things back to us We are naturally thankful for good and pleasant things. But we may not naturally exhibit our gratitude in ways that relay our appreciation to others.
It’s our job as parents to teach this to our children. We spend (or should spend) much of our time repeating to them, “say thank you…say thank you!” every time someone gives our children a gift something. We are like a broken record because it seems that they will never get it. And this is very important. And eventually, they begin to say “thank you” on their own… and most of the time, they mean it!! But we parents persevere until then because we know that gratitude is a gift that keeps on giving throughout a lifetime.
Gratitude is what brings us closer to others.
Gratitude is how we show love and friendship and caring.
Gratitude is the gateway to contentment.
When we drill it into our children and more importantly, when we model gratitude by our own consistent behavior, we pass on the key to happiness.
TEN WAYS TO TEACH GRATITUDE:
1. Always say ‘thank you’ yourself.
2. Always point out the positive. Encourage positive behavior by expressing your approval through appreciation—“I really appreciate that you did such a good job washing the dishes”
3. Don’t just tell your child to “say thank you”, encourage them to look the person in the eye when they say it.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal for your self. And let your child know that you do. This sends a message that gratitude is a priority with you.
5. Don’t wait ‘til Thanksgiving Day to express what you are thankful for. Do this often, throughout the year.
6. Say Grace.
7. Publicly express your appreciation for your spouse. Kids need to know, feel and hear about married love and appreciation. Don’t assume they know you and your spouse love and appreciate each other.
8. When your kids do something for you, be a gratitude gusher. Shower them with appreciation. There is nothing more effective than positive reinforcement.
9. Always have them send hand-written thank-you notes after a birthday party or whenever they receive gifts.
10. Always say “thank you” yourself…Oh, did I say that already?!?!? 🙂