Gratitude, or being thankful and appreciative, can seem like a tough concept to teach young children.
After all, very young children are still trying to figure out their own place in the world and satisfy their very immediate needs. How can they learn to be grateful to another person for a kindness shown to them?
While it might take time and practice, teaching children what it means and feels like to be grateful is a family practice you can start today.
Based on research from the Greater Good Magazine, here are a few ways you can help your child learn gratitude.
1. Build gratitude into your daily routine.
For young children, speak once a day about what their “good things” are from that day. For example, before bed ask “What are your three good things from today?” While you’re not directly using the word gratitude or grateful, children will still understand and get in the habit of thinking positively about their day.
2. Model gratitude through words and deeds.
Let your child see YOU being grateful! After all, more than anything your child wants to be like you. Let your child hear you speaking about what you’re grateful for, like “I’m so grateful grandma and grandpa were able to come visit this weekend.” Next, let them see you express your gratitude through actions like writing thank you notes or buying small gifts of appreciation.
3. Find ways to give.
Being grateful for kindness shown to you is important, but the flip side is using your own strengths and abilities to help others as well. From Greater Good Magazine: “When children lend a hand, especially while using their strengths, they feel more connected to those they’re helping, which helps them to develop and nurture friendships and social relationships.”
Gratitude is shown to have a big impact on our happiness and health. If children are able to internalize and express gratitude starting from a young age, just imagine how much happiness they will bring themselves and those around them!
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