The holiday season reminds us to be thankful for all we have in our lives. But being grateful goes beyond saying thank you…
Having a gratuitous attitude does the following 5 things:
- Creates good manners
- Promotes a healthy attitude about life
- Creates a healthy mindset
- Helps children appreciate what they have
- Creates a better attitude about school
Below are five tips for helping reinforce the notion of gratitude in your child at home or your students in the classroom…
1. Name Your Blessings
Whether it is at the dinner table or the classroom, take a moment of thanks each day when everyone (the whole family or the entire classroom) can share something they’re thankful for. All it requires is asking a simple question:
“What are you thankful for today?”
They could name anything or anyone from a coach or instructor to a birthday card from a family member to even something material like a favorite toy. This daily tradition helps develop a positive frame of mind and helps students realize the good in their lives, creating a quick and significant shift of attitude.
2. Write Thank-You Notes
Handwritten thank-you notes seem to be a dying art, but they are a perfect way to encourage kids to express gratitude (and as an added bonus, the notes will make the recipient’s day).
While it’s more than appropriate to send notes as a follow-up to birthdays and other special occasions, encourage children to write thank-you notes for the “unsung heroes” in their day-to-day life, such as:
- family members
There are unlimited opportunities throughout the year for children to recognize and thank those who have done something special for them, and it’s a habit that if they start young, they’ll naturally carry throughout life.
3. Encourage Helping Others
The old saying, “It’s better to give than to receive” has stuck around for a reason. It feels great to help others and when children give their time and energy to help others, they’re less likely to take things like health, home, and family for granted.
There are plenty of opportunities and outlets to encourage children to help from raking leaves for an elderly neighbor to volunteering at a nursing home a few hours a week to donating old toys and clothes to the less fortunate. You can even make the service an activity for the entire family or classroom.
Most important, be sure to talk about the process with your student and discuss why we care. When children lend a hand, especially while using their strengths, they feel more connected to those they’re helping, which helps them to develop and nurture friendships and social relationships.
4. Teach Respect and Politeness
Often, we put more emphasis on showing respect for bosses, spiritual leaders, and other high-profile people, while forgetting to extend the same courtesy to others. But it is important to model the importance of treating everyone with respect.
When we teach children to treat others with dignity and respect, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the ways in which those people contribute to, and improve, their lives. By the same token, they’ll be less likely to take assistance and kindness for granted and more likely to give it the value it deserves. It’s crucial for family and teachers to model the importance of treating all people with respect.
5. Set the Example
The values our children embrace as they get older aren’t those we nag them into learning, but the ones they see us living out. There are countless opportunities every day for us to model gratitude, for example:
- Thank the waitress when she brings your food
- Thank the cashier who rings you up at the grocery store
- Thank the teller at the bank
- Thank the mailman for bringing your mail each day
- Take out the trash for an elderly neighbor
- Hold the door open for someone
When children see us expressing sincere thanks all the time, they’ll be more inclined to do so as well. And be patient. Children can’t be coaxed into showing appreciation, but your gentle efforts and examples will instill gratitude as a way of life.
Sources include The Center for Parenting Education, GreaterGood.Berkeley.edu, The Huffington Post, PBS, and The Today Show