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Teaching our children to have an attitude of gratitude

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  • Category Advice Column, Child, Parenting, Toddler, Tween & Teen, Tween & Teen Advice

Have you noticed that we may be bringing up a generation of young people who feel so entitled to gifts, devices and whatever they desire, that gratitude is becoming a lost art? How often do you feel uncomfortable in choosing gifts for yours or other’s children because you know that the more affordable, ‘little’ things may result in a forced ‘thank-you’, or worse, a temper tantrum?

“The truth of the matter is that gratitude is a LEARNED behaviour that is our responsibility, as parents, to ensure that we teach our children.  Gratitude is not just about using the words ‘please’ and ‘thank-you’. It is about teaching our children to FEEL a sense of joy and gratefulness, to experience happiness at acknowledging good intentions and love, at recognizing that gestures of kindness and friendship, support and love all deserve our feelings of being thankful,” says Cindy Glass, Owner and Co-Founder of Step Up Education Centres. She adds that it is about noticing and acknowledging the little blessings and gifts in our lives – the butterfly on the windowsill, the food on our plate, the easy-to-access water in our taps and the clothes we wear. 

“In addition, gratitude is our opportunity to share and give of ourselves and our time to others, ensuring moments of happiness that only need to be acknowledged to be enjoyed and appreciated,” says Cindy.

She gives parents 4 practical ways to teach children to have an attitude of gratitude: 

  1. Make gratitude a habit in your home: Point out and show appreciation and acknowledgement for little moments of joy – your son making his bed, the sound of the rain on the roof, your daughter making you a piece of toast, your teenager offering to help around the house. See it, feel it and express it!
  2. Focus on good intentions: Little Sihle trips while trying to bring mom a much-needed glass of water. The glass shatters! Gratitude would be to acknowledge the kind gesture that was Sihle’s intention, rather than scold him for breaking the glass. Teach your children to acknowledge good intentions, even if they end up not working out as planned.
  3. Find ways to bless the lives of others: Showing kindness, even in seemingly small ways, can teach the art of being grateful for the blessings in your own life. It is a joy to give. It is a joy to receive. Do both with grace and gratitude and you will experience happiness in ways you could not have imagined.
  4. Teach your children to value intention: If you are used to receiving and giving of expensive gifts, try insisting on adding to your list, a gift that is handmade and simple, but has special meaning, one-to-another. You will be amazed at how this little gesture can have a miraculously positive impact on your family! Teach your children to value intention!

“It is our responsibility, as parents, to model and teach an attitude of gratitude to our children. Happiness comes in moments, in the little things that we so often overlook! Being sincerely grateful for these moments will transform your lives. Gratitude will see you through the toughest of challenges as you focus, daily on these moments of good intention and blessings,” Cindy concludes.

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