Finding Ways to Teach Your Child Gratitude
by Jeannine Laubner
A grateful child is happier, more optimistic and less stressed. How do you treat your children to feel gratitude for all they have? There are sound ways in which you can try to give compassion, appreciation and gratitude to your child.
Be a role model
When you express gratitude by speaking about it, or through your gestures, you turn it into an important personal value. When you do this consistently, you have a chance of imprinting the quality on your child. It can also help to rope others in to discuss with your child how they get to benefit from the actions of others.
Gratitude isn’t a standalone quality. Instead, it’s a quality that draws from various other values. Empathy is one of them. Spend time with your children, be present in the moment, and do everything you can to express empathy while you are with them. When they learn empathy, they become mentally ready to take the place of the other and think of how they would feel if they did something nice, and received gratitude in return.
Raise an independent child
When a child experiences the joy of autonomy and independence, they begin to use their faculties to feel emotions like appreciation and gratitude. Independence also helps children appreciate the different ways in which they receive the support of others. They are likely to use their autonomy to express gratitude for such support. Letting a child be independent, however, does not mean offering complete freedom from oversight.
Help your children appreciate personal growth
The accumulation of personal possessions rarely offers the kind of contentment that comes from genuine human relationships. Encourage your children to pay greater attention to the people in their lives, and go after experiences that help them grow and find gratitude. When your children have deep experiences in their lives, they will begin to see a reason to appreciate and be grateful.
Help them earn gratitude
Your children will quickly learn the beauty of gratitude when they earn the gratitude of others. Help your children help others so that they earn their thanks. They will soon experience at firsthand what it feels like to see gratitude in action and gain a new appreciation for it.
Help them find something that’s important to them
Gratitude can often come from the realization that there are things that are bigger than yourself. Help your child find a cause that they can truly appreciate. When they begin to care about the cause, they will gradually begin to feel gratitude in a number of ways — for others who care about the cause, for all the work they do and so on.
It’s important to understand that you can’t directly teach qualities like gratitude. Instead, what you can do is to make it possible for your children to learn gratitude on their own. Setting the stage for this to happen is what parents can do best.
About the author:
Jeannine Laubner is the Academic Director of Kipinä Kids Nurseries and Preschools, the world’s fastest-growing international Finnish preschool franchise. She is a fourth-generation teacher, and mother of two Kipinä-educated children. Hailing from San Francisco, USA, she is a successful leader in education with over 18 years of experience. Jeannine holds a Masters degree in Teaching, a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development certification. When she is not developing teaching tools for the Kipinä Enhanced Finland Curriculum, she is supporting green initiatives, animal welfare and Girl Scouts Overseas.