With the holidays around the corner, there’s no better time to teach your children about gratitude. During the holiday season, it’s important to put an emphasis on family, thoughtfulness, and giving back to the community. It’s also the season to ensure your children understand the significance of being kind to others. Every parent dreams of having grateful, compassionate children, and learning these qualities starts at home. Here's four ideas to get you started!
1. Mind their manners
Having good manners, the smallest but kindest gesture of all, demonstrates your children’s politeness and appreciation. Teaching when to say “please” and “thank you” will allow them to express their gratitude, and reinforcing this from a young age will help them get through those gloomy teen years. Pay attention to the times when your children should be saying “please” and “thank you” and remind them if they forget. Saying “thank you” to their server at a restaurant or a sibling who has helped them is a simple way to show this small but meaningful act of kindness. The holidays and other gift-giving events are perfect opportunities for parents to encourage children to be appreciative of the gift and the gift giver.
2. Reflect on your own gratitude
It’s no secret that children look up to their parents and guardians, so if we lead by example, they will model our behavior. Talk to your children about things you’re grateful for. Be specific so that your children can fully understand why and how you’re thankful. By sharing your gratitude, you teach children that there is good in valuing others; spreading this kind of positivity will create a mirror effect, and they’ll want to do the same. A simple statement like, “I appreciate you helping your brother with his homework, that was really nice of you,” can go a long way.
3. Practice simple, kind tasks
Emphasize kindness towards others in a supervised setting. Simple tasks
like holding the elevator door open or picking up something a stranger has dropped
teaches children the importance of being kind to
everyone. Sharing is another simple, kind task that encourages children to play cooperatively and take
turns—the fundamental lessons of adulthood at an early age. Engaging in simple,
kind tasks inspires a
pay-it-forward mindset, while teaching children responsibility, proactivity,
and thoughtfulness towards others.
4. Donate to charity together
Donating to charity is an excellent way to express gratitude; the act of giving to others who are less fortunate can help children appreciate what they have. Toys that are no longer in use and clothes that no longer fit are perfect items to set aside with your children to donate. Let your children take initiative in selecting which of their own items to give away and go together to drop them off. This can help to develop their empathy and humility.
The more that children engage in kind behavior, the more instinctual it will become. Empowering your children to make warm-hearted decisions on their own sets them on a path to see the world through a more compassionate lens.