There is a saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That saying shows how a child perceives the world around them. It proves that society builds a child’s character and what they see is how they will become. That is why it is so important to show children what gratitude actually is. Words can only go so far.
Sure, you can use your manners and say “please” and “thank you,” but words often fall on deaf ears especially when a child is young. That is why you need to remain constant in your efforts to express gratitude. Gratitude isn’t something that we are born with. It is a character trait that is learned over the years. Being grateful and showing it every day will help to reinforce the idea of gratitude for every little thing.
Take a child of 10 and compare them with a two-year-old. The ten-year-old will be able to grasp the concept of showing gratitude by complementing the little things like the sunset or a picture. The two-year-old will be able to pick up on the idea of what gratitude is through social interactions with the bigger sibling.
But what if you don’t have a second child to help reinforce the idea of gratitude? There are other ways for you to teach your child gratitude without it being forceful.
Take volunteering for example or a “goodwill project.” The more you incorporate gratitude into your daily life and show what it is rather than explain, a child will pick up on it better. When you take your child to volunteer at a soup kitchen or by helping someone in need, you can explain how other people are in different situations.
The lesson will then show the child to express gratitude for the things they have rather than focus on the things they don’t. By allowing the child to experience something outside their comfort zone, helps them to realize more of the world. It shows them that not everyone has the same things. By incorporating generosity a child will see all sides of gratitude. Not just from their point of view but also from the perspective of who they are helping.
When trying to teach gratitude to older children the best way is by sending out thank you letters. When a child is made to explain why they are thankful for the gifts they received, they show more gratitude and appreciation for that particular gift. It also sets an example for the younger children in the house to write their own letters, even if they are just drawings and scribbles, to begin with.
Gratitude is something that seems to be lost on this generation. All too often you hear of people crying for things that they can’t have instead of being happy about the things they do. In generations past, they didn’t have a PS4 or iPhone or any of the technology that we have today. They were happy with what they had because even though it wasn’t much, they earned it.
By giving your child chores and ways to earn surprises makes them appreciate them a little better more. If you were to just give your child a toy, it would probably end up on the floor, dirty or even lost. But if they earned the money to buy that toy it would be a token of accomplishment. That toy wouldn’t get lost as easily and the child would be grateful for being allowed to earn it. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is the truth. Reverse psychology works wonders. Just remember to be patient. Gratitude isn’t something that develops overnight. It is a process that requires time and reinforcement.