We often say we are grateful for what we have, but how regularly do we really show our gratitude? This Thanksgiving, let’s use the holiday to kick start a new movement towards gratitude for our families, because we know that the only way to do something frequently is to make a habit of it.
1) Grateful families talk about what they are thankful for. Get your kids really thinking about gratitude, so the next time they are asked about it, instead of simply giving a pat response like “I’m grateful for my family” or “for my food,” they can put more emotion into their answer and go a little deeper. One idea is to have kids name something specific they are grateful for each day before their first bite of dinner. Extra points for effort!
2) Grateful families practice gratitude daily. It’s not always innate, so parents need to teach children by practicing grateful behaviour in everyday interactions. It will become a habit for kids when they see it modelled by their parents. Encourage children to volunteer to help those less fortunate, to appreciate what they have, and to be giving and thoughtful to their friends. Teach them the concept of “pay it forward.”
3) Grateful families know the value of hard work and discipline. Kids must learn to work for their achievements, whether they’re doing chores around the house, taking care of a pet, or doing a school project. It will be easier to feel thankful for what they have, when they have put their own blood, sweat and tears into it. Parents must resist the urge to give their kids everything – material or physical – and always discipline them with love. Remember, you’re their parent and guardian, not their best friend, so be consistent with discipline to earn their respect.
4) Grateful families spend quality time together. Children need to be held by a loving family in order to feel nurtured and supported, which in turn, will show them how to love and care for others. By spending quality time together, free of distractions, kids of all ages will bond more deeply with parents while learning empathy at the same time. Without empathy, there can be no gratitude.
5) Grateful families are generous. When people are fulfilled and thankful for all that they have, they are more giving. Their cup is full and they want to share their wealth of love and gratitude with others. The more often you give, the more often you will want to give again.
This fall, make Thanksgiving last a little longer by finding ways for you and your family to feel grateful all year long.
If you like this post, you might also like How to Raise Empathetic Children in the Selfie Age and 7 Habits for Happier Parents.