5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Be Grateful
October 31, 2014
From our partner, Tésa Nicolanti, 2 Wired 2 Tired
The holidays are a very busy time of year, but it’s important to slow down and take time to remember the people in our lives and the things we are grateful for. One of my goals as a mom is to teach my children gratitude. It is eye-opening for children to realize that not everyone is exactly like them or as fortunate to have the same things they do, and it is a high priority for us to teach our kids the importance of helping those in need. Doing so not only helps them appreciate what they have, it also broadens their perspectives and makes them more caring. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on how to teach kids gratitude, and I was happy to see that people who are more grateful for what they have also tend to be more contented in their daily lives. That’s why I’m excited to work with The Motherhood and Healthy Essentials to share 5 ways to teach your child to be grateful.
1. Volunteer as a Family
There are many ways families can volunteer, whether it’s spending time at a local soup kitchen to help serve lunch, joining a clean-up crew to pick up litter at a local park, taking shelter dogs for a walk, or anything in between. Volunteering shows children how they can make a difference, and how other people, animals, and even our planet may need help. It will help them recognize the things they have, which in turn will teach them to be grateful and appreciative of those things, along with their ability to help others. There are many volunteer organizations listed online, which you can find by Googling “volunteer” and your city. Once you find an organization you are interested in, they may have some opportunities for families listed online, or you can speak with someone about volunteering as a family. You may be surprised by what you find nearby.
2. Clean Up for Charity
Every child loves to receive gifts, but there comes a point where kids don’t even play with the toys and games they have. When this happens, one of my favorite ways to eliminate clutter in our house is to have the kids help me donate things to charity. We talk about how much fun other kids will have with the toys and games they’ve outgrown, and it makes them happy to know that other children will get a chance to enjoy the toys as much as they did. This can open up a conversation about children and families in need and being grateful for what you have.
3. Give Back Through Gifts
Speaking of too many toys, during the holidays, many kids have wish lists a mile long. While it’s fun for them to dream about getting every single toy in every single color, this is the perfect opportunity to teach kids about gratitude. Set a rule that for every 5 toys they put on their wish lists, they have to add a gift that gives back. Take some time to browse the Internet as a family to find these types of gifts. There are many wonderful sites out there that have gotten very creative with charitable gifts. For families and children in other countries, for example, you can give goats, clean water, soccer balls, and more. You can buy beautiful handmade bracelets, necklaces, hair accessories, and other items from artisans in developing countries. By having your children add some of these items to their wish lists, you’ll help broaden their view of the world. Browsing the web for the gifts that give back is also quality family time well spent.
4. Collect Change For Charity
Have family members start putting extra change in a jar every night when they come home. You’ll be amazed at how quickly it adds up. At the end of the month, or on a particular target date, have everyone gather around and talk about which charity you would like to donate it to and why. If the kids are younger, Mom and Dad can just pick the charity. If the kids are a bit older, why not get them involved, too? Have them do some research on charities, and when the set date arrives, ask them to talk about their favorite charity and why they picked it. You can turn it into a family vote or decide to alternate charities each month. This is a wonderful way for children to learn about different charities and non-profit groups under parental guidance. Doing the research and donating the change will go a long way in teaching gratefulness.
5. Get Moving for a 5K Run/Walk
Although it’s November, there are many parts of the country that are still enjoying warm weather, perfect for training for a 5K as a family. For those of us in the colder climates, there are a number of races to keep us busy. Whether you walk it or run it, it’s the memories that matter. Many 5Ks are hosted by non-profits and charities, and taking the time to learn about who’s behind the event and why can be very eye-opening for children and adults alike. Not only is this a fun way to spend time together and reap the health benefits, but paying the race fee and learning about the cause behind the 5K provide a ready-made way to give back.
These are my five favorite ways to teach children about gratitude. They each take a little bit of time and encourage family involvement, but learning to be grateful is not always something that happens overnight. It is, however, very well worth it, and your children will be glad they had these opportunities and experiences – they may become some of your family’s favorite moments together. So this holiday season, be sure to slow down just a bit, be grateful for what you have, and take some time to teach your children to be thankful.