Simple Activities Which Can Foster Gratitude in Kids
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
– Marcel Proust
As a mother, I want to teach my children that life itself is a pure gift; only in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures, we can truly say we are alive. Gratitude goes beyond the ‘mine’ and acknowledges everything that’s wonderful about this world – our health, our hearts, our wisdom, the people making us happy, our angelic children, the future ahead, everything. Cultivating the habit of being grateful for all good things in our way may be the essential part of our (happy) lives; and this is something we must all accept as a way of living.
In the spiriting of Thanksgiving (but in our home – always), we’re talking about gratitude and ways we can teach it, foster it and remember it. Taught by experience throughout many, many years of “parenting work” with my kids (I’ve got three), I’m giving you a list of things that will teach your angels a little bit of gratitude.
Talk, but more action
Naturally, the first step to getting children to understand gratitude is to talk about it; your children should be reminded how blessed they are to have everything they do – a good home, both parents (or one parent that loves them for two), clothes, books, their health and a future. Throw this “knowledge” casually into conversations and make them regularity rather than lessons. Still, watch your actions – kids learn most by looking up to their parents.
Set every Saturday aside to help out at the local homeless shelter kitchen; you and your kid(s) can make it a family activity that will instill the kid with responsibility and let them realize on their own how privileged they really are. Kids are smart; once they come face to face with “another reality”, they’ll mirror the image to their own. Expect a lot of questions (and know how to answer them).
Helping the elderly
For some reason, there is a general dislike of the elderly; teach your kids otherwise. Tell them stories about their grandparents’ youth, what an amazing support they’ve been throughout the years of your marriage, etc.
Make sure your children spend a lot of time with their grandparents; encourage the kids to help them (and their elderly friends) out with groceries, house cleaning, daily errands, preparing food, getting their medication in order, decorating their homes and Christmas trees at the beginning of holiday season, etc. They’ll bond and learn how grateful they should be for their youth and all physical and mental capacities they are blessed with.
When they’re little, kids don’t really perceive money’s value; in fact, they have no idea where the money comes from or how hard it is to earn it. They’ll take every toy, meal, piece of clothing, vacation, etc. for granted – because they don’t know better.
The best way to teach your children the value of money is to encourage them to earn it. Lemonade stands, bake sales, babysitting smaller children, garage sales… are all great ways to trade work for some money. Additionally, the kids can earn by throwing out the trash or doing yard work – you’ll pay them, but they need to be diligent about it. Only when they sweat a little, they’ll understand what it is all about.
Underprivileged children / Red Cross
Just as you would go to homeless shelters and help out, go to the Red Cross, too. When your kid(s) meet kids of their age who live in poor conditions and have barely anything, they’ll immediately feel gratitude (again, questions will be many). Make it a habit with your kids to put away all the clothes that they don’t want to wear any longer or that don’t fit, and store them for donation. Take it to the Red Cross together and let your kids experience the process.
Our gorgeous little children are still unaware of the world; it is our parenting duty to set grounds for the life ahead of them, at least – as much as we can. I am doing my best – and I know you are, too.
About author: Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She feels she knows a thing or two about raising happy, healthy and confident kids, and offers helpful advice in hers parenting articles. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”