Monday, November 28, 2011

Teaching Children Gratitude -- a late Thanksgiving post?

I'm really bad at planning to write specific posts like Thanksgiving posts or Christmas posts; I just have to let them come naturally, and sometimes they just don't come.  I have read two great posts recently on how to teach our children gratitude and not entitlement/consumerism -- goes along well with the Thanksgiving topic, don't you think?  I enjoyed this first post from the idea room by Heather Ann:

Good research has found that adults who are grateful report having fewer health problems (like digestion and headaches), more energy, and a greater feeling of well-being than those who complain. Most studies show that the more gratitude we show, the healthier and happier we are.
Can’t we assume findings would be the same for children? Children who express gratitude are kinder, more appreciative, more empathetic, happier and more enthusiastic. Grateful children understand that other people have needs and they look outside themselves. They are more polite, usually better behaved and generally more pleasant to be around.
Kids who are not taught gratitude struggle with feelings of entitlement and are usually disappointed, feeling that nothing is good enough for them. 
In trying to teach our children gratitude, parents have been making the same mistakes for years. Avoid pointing out to our children that they are more blessed than others. That doesn’t teach them to be grateful. When it comes to meals, don’t tell them “you should be grateful for your food, and eat it, kids in other countries are starving”. This won’t work either.

Her major points on how to teach children gratitude:
1.  We need to model gratitude ourselves.

2.  Say “No.”

3.  Give your children responsibility.

4.   Teach your children to be grateful for adversity.

5.   Role Play. Practice saying “please” and “thank you” with your children. 

6.   Teach your children to write Thank you Notes.

7.  Point out the simple things.

8.  Provide your family opportunities to serve.

Along these same lines, I also enjoyed Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life? at Empowering LDS Women by Kels.