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3 Quick Tips for Raising Grateful Kids

Gratitude can be a tricky thing to teach young children. We start by prompting them with “Say thank you!” every time thanks is warranted, but gratitude is a pretty abstract concept to teach young children. So, how do we teach them meaningful gratitude over robotically reciting “thank you” whenever you put lunch on the table or they receive a gift?

Why Teaching Meaningful Gratitude is a Must

Ultimately, teaching gratitude beyond the baseline of good manners will result in happier and more resilient children. In fact, studies show that gratitude is directly linked to happiness as early as the age of five (see Journal of Happiness Studies). Here’s how: 

Gratitude helps children learn to enjoy the present instead of focusing on what’s next. When children learn meaningful gratitude, it builds resilience, discourages materialism, and helps them handle feelings of jealousy. It also builds healthy relationships because the expression of gratitude is a key player in establishing loving bonds. Finally, gratitude is a great combatant to stress and anxiety. It promotes better mental health by shifting focus away from negative thinking, and as we all know, positivity is contagious!

3 Quick Tips for Raising Grateful Kids

1. Talk about all aspects of gratitude. When you prompt your young one to say thank you for something, go a step further and encourage a conversation that includes the four components of gratitude: Noticing what you have been given, thinking about why you received it, observing your feelings about it, and doing something to express your gratitude. 

For example, if Grandma sends a care package in the mail, ask your child: Why do you think she sent such a thoughtful gift? How did it make you feel when you saw the package and found out it was for you? Are you excited to call Grandma and express your gratitude? These conversations will promote self-awareness, and in turn, help a child more easily notice what it feels like to be truly grateful. Read this article from Greater Good Magazine to learn more about these four aspects of gratitude. 

2. Model expressing gratitude for ordinary things. Point out seemingly ordinary things to your child and comment on exactly what makes this ordinary thing so extraordinary. For instance, point out the smile on their baby sister’s face and how happy it makes you as a parent. Or draw attention to the fact that the sun came up just in time to join for pancakes and strawberries! Doing this will help children be aware of all of the great things that surround them every single day. 

3. Turn expressing gratitude into a ritual. Gratitude doesn’t just appear out of thin air; it needs cultivated, just like a garden. You can do this by creating little consistencies in your child’s day that revolve around being grateful, like taking turns at dinner sharing one thing that brought you joy during the day. Check out Five Ways to Teach Your Child to Give Back for more kindness inspiration. 

Ultimately, gratitude needs practice and repetition, just like honing any skill does. Teaching your children gratitude can not only be fun, but it can also keep your own gratitude practices in check.  For more resources on taking care of your child’s mental health and other topics we’re passionate about, read: Raising Global Citizens | Our Diversity Council’s Fall Recommendations To keep up to date with more parenting and nannying tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and sign up for our newsletter!

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