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As a parent, teaching your child gratitude in this modern world bereft with entitlement can be a challenge. Research shows that out of all the emotions, gratitude is the one with the most positive effect on a child’s overall happiness. Studies have also found a strong link between appreciation and social ability, school performance, and mental well-being.
Here are seven science-based tips you can apply as a parent to teach your child how to nurture gratitude:
1. Work on Being a Role Model of Gratitude for Your Child
Young children like to imitate the actions they see in their parents. Try making a habit out of practicing daily acts of gratitude in front of your kids. Let them see you thank people in your life for acts of kindness. Even ask them to help you write “thank you” notes. Be open in expressing appreciation for daily blessings such as health, food, and having a warm bed. This may help them learn the value of being grateful.
2. Spend Quality Time With Your Child and Be Present
Time spent with your kids is precious, and for them to learn to appreciate it, it’s important to remove all and any distractions and be there. Listen to what your children say and show them empathy and understanding—all while bonding with them and learning together what activities you enjoy sharing.
3. Be Supportive of Your Kids’ Autonomy
Allow your children to take control of their strengths and ability to develop them themselves. Offering the opportunity to assert their independence constructively is not only valuable for their overall development but will also enhance their feelings of gratefulness. Limit their use of social media and encourage them to grow as individuals with minimal negative influences.
4. Encourage Them to Use Their Strengths
To foster more gratitude, you may want to allow them to use their main qualities in day-to-day interactions. Offer them the chance to use those strengths to show their thankfulness by directly talking to people, writing letters, or even showing appreciation creatively with a drawing or a painting.
5. Support Your Child in Achieving Personal Growth Rather Than Material Things
Having the most recent smartphone and designer clothes is something many children and teenagers are likely to desire. Do not neglect encouraging them to pursue goals and activities that add value to their lives, their community, or that increases their sense of achievement. Then remind them to show their thankfulness toward everyone who has offered help and support along the way, such as teachers, and of course parents.
6. Nurture Their Generosity and Encourage Them to Build Friendships
When you encourage your children to help others, it can give them a firsthand glimpse into the value of being gracious. It also helps them to create, understand, and nurture positive relations with those around them. Kids will not only learn the importance of generosity but can even comprehend the need to show gratitude towards others.
7. Help Your Kids Discover What’s Important to Them
Helping children learn to pursue their dreams and passions can lead to a sense of purpose. When people find a connection to something bigger than them, they can develop a deep feeling of thankfulness and an ability to become valuable members of society as they grow older.
Planting the seed of gratitude in your child may not be an overnight task. In the words of Voltaire, “Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”