We are approaching the time of year when there is certainly more focus on being thankful, but also a lot of intentional attempts at capturing our need for more. This desire for more and more starts early and if intentional attempts at curbing that need for more are not put into practice, it can create just the outcome in our children we are hoping to avoid, ungrateful, unappreciative and spoiled kids.
It is easy to talk about gratitude and thanksgiving on Thanksgiving Day, you probably had a nice meal and went around sharing what you were thankful for, but how do you continue that the entire year? What steps can you take as a parent to encourage grateful and appreciative children.
Kids learn what they see, or in other words; they cannot learn what they do not see. Do you find yourself complaining about money, family members, your job or home? When we model a lack of gratitude and appreciation on a consistent basis your children will certainly pick up this behavior and consider it ‘normal’.
So starting right now, notice what’s good and right in your world instead of noticing all that’s wrong. Instead of focusing your energy on complaining, direct your conversations around things you enjoy about your life, the people you appreciate.
If you have trouble with this, take a look at www.onethousandgifts.com, where author Ann Voskamp has taken readers on a journey of finding the special gifts in our life each day. This can literally change your life and your family. Make it a personal journey or get your family involved in coming up with what you are grateful for every evening around the dinner table.
Kids learn gratitude by seeing others show appreciation in all the everyday stuff, the life that goes on around us, not just the big things – it is all about the little things.
Help Others in Need
Find ways for your family to help others in need. It could be delivering meals to the housebound, making amenity bags for the homeless or serving a meal at a local shelter; get your family involved and give the opportunity for your children to truly appreciate their surroundings. Our family volunteered for over a year hosting a meal at a local church with several other families for those who were homeless. I can tell you – no words that I could share would have engrained what being homeless truly is and how grateful someone can be for a hot meal. My kids saw firsthand those who were in desperate need, they had a chance to share a smile with someone who was truly grateful for what they had done for them.
This is also a perfect time to get a few gifts to wrap and donate to Giving Trees or other organizations that help children who would otherwise not get gifts during the holiday season. As a foster parent, I can tell you that the gifts DO get to children who need them and they are so appreciated. It is amazing how generous people can be!
Dish Out Thank You’s
Don’t forget to be appreciative of the small gestures that your children may do; make sure you are generous with ‘thank you’s’ inside the walls of your home. Don’t get caught up in all the hustle and bustle that you forget to acknowledge each other. It can be easy to do, so be intentional. Make it a family expectation, that everyone will say ‘thank you’ when they are on the receiving end, even for something as simple as passing the potatoes at dinner. Start early and teach children to say ‘thank you’ when they receive something and also to say ‘you’re welcome’. This habit, developed early will remain and help to build a heart of gratitude and appreciation into adulthood.
Ban ‘The Gimmies’
Be careful about overindulging your children with too much. This can be extremely difficult during the holiday season, with all the pressure to buy more. But having too much can really dilute any appreciation for what your children have. Always giving your children what they want certainly doesn’t promote being grateful and in fact will spoil any attempts at trying to create an appreciative heart. Be purposeful and thoughtful in your gift giving and try to relay this to family members and friends. It is not quantity but rather the quality or thought of the gift.
Post written by Susan Heid…
Susan Heid is the mom behind The Confident Mom where she loves inspiring moms to make small changes managing their home and family life giving them more time, less stress and stronger family relationships! She enthusiastically wears the hat of mom, step-mom and foster mom to 4 awesome kids – ages 18, 14, 10 and 17 months; is married to her very own prince charming, loves coffee, cloudy days, and does think the bluest skies you’ve ever seen are in Seattle. Her FREE 5 part mini series: “The Opening Act” is helping moms worldwide become the calm mom they want to be! Join the community of moms on Facebook or find her @ConfidentMom on Twitter.