From Entitled to Thankful

Raising Children with an Attitude of Gratitude

Model Gratitude. Gratitude isn’t just a lesson to be taught to children. Instead of clamoring for the newest gadget, work on being grateful for what you have right now. When interacting with your kids, share frequently and generously and say please and thank you so that good manners are “what we do.”

Share the Gift of Giving. The more kids get, the less they appreciate what they have. Receiving gifts can be fun, but make sure your children also recognize the joy of giving. Around the holidays, focus on celebrating, making memories and visiting with friends and family rather than who gets the most presents.

Teach Family Values. Many children grow up believing that life is about acquiring money and material possessions. If your family values hard work, saving money and simple joys, make sure your principles are being communicated regularly.

Start a Family Tradition. Make gratitude a habit: by going around the dinner table saying one thing you’re grateful for or reflecting on the day at bedtime, noting the small things you enjoyed.

Assign Age-Appropriate Tasks. The more children contribute around the house, the more they realize how much effort it takes to keep a household running. Even if it takes twice as long or ends up creating another mess, give your child age-appropriate chores like setting the table or feeding a pet (or for teenagers, working a part-time job). Not only will they appreciate that these tasks require effort but they will feel the satisfaction of earning what they have and making a valuable contribution to the family.

Serve Others. Service can be part of a child’s life from a young age. Get young kids involved in decorating thank-you notes, baking cookies for a friend or donating belongings to less fortunate children — and point out how good it feels to make someone else’s day brighter. With older kids, volunteer at an animal shelter, nursing home or soup kitchen, or figure out a type of charitable work they’re passionate about and offer to help out.

Practice Mindfulness. Kids spend much of their day in front of screens, too often losing sight of the small but enduring pleasures found in nature and in their interactions with other people. Take time to appreciate the sights, smells and sounds around you, and you’ll model mindfulness for your kids.

Happiness is a choice.

You don’t have to wait until you have the perfect life to be happy.

You can choose it right now by focusing on what you’re grateful for and encouraging your children to do the same.