How to teach gratitude to your children

Feeling grateful is something that comes naturally to some and not so much to others. 

Often, life’s problems can get us down and we forget about all the things we have to be grateful for.

Sometimes, of course, this is warranted – the number of nice things in your life isn’t going to counterbalance a mental illness diagnosis, for instance – but practising gratitude can be very powerful. 

This is why teaching gratitude to your children from a young age can be invaluable. 

‘Gratitude is learnt from watching and listening to those around us,’ says parenting expert Rebecca Lockwood. ‘It’s important to teach children gratitude as early as possible so they understand that we should feel content with what we already have and that we can feel whole with the simple things we often take for granted but are actually very important.

‘It’s also important to teach children about the value of money, as this helps them to understand gratitude when it comes to buying new things and the value of what we can and cannot buy. 

‘It is common for children to ask parents to buy things when you are out shopping and this teaches them gratitude towards value.’

It was recently revealed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have instilled a culture of gratitude into their children by getting them to write thank-you notes to everyone who helped them, just as Princess Diana did for Prince William and Prince Harry.

Similarly, Hester Grainger, co-founder of Perfectly Autistic, is committed to teaching her children to be grateful in life.  

‘It’s so important to teach gratitude to my children as, nowadays, it feels like everything is so quick and easy to access,’ she tells Metro.co.uk. ‘When I was growing up you had to save for something and you didn’t judge others by their possessions but, now, because of social media and next day delivery, children don’t expect to have to wait for anything.

‘I want my children to be grateful for being healthy and happy, having a warm home, food in the fridge and nice things to play with, and understand that a lot of people may not be as fortunate.’

Thank you letters are one way to remind children to give thanks throughout their lives. Some other methods include practising gratitude before bed each night and teaching your children the value of money.

How to teach gratitude to your children

Spend some time each evening giving thanks

According to Lockwood, it’s important to teach children to be grateful for what they already have.

Every night, before bed, talk to your children about the simple things we have that we should be grateful for, like clean water, what you ate for tea, the covers on the bed, your beating heart, etc. 

‘These are the simple things that are often taken for granted that you have access to without a second thought.’

Teach your children about money

‘You should talk about the value of money with your children and perhaps set a task to earn money to help them understand,’ says Lockwood.

‘Setting small tasks to help earn money will help to teach the value of money and gratitude towards everything that money buys, like food, milk and the water bills. 

‘Have conversations with your children about these things so they begin to understand the importance of being grateful for the things that you buy them and then the things they will be able to buy themselves one day.’ 

Practice gratitude in your daily life

‘As children, especially between the ages of 0-7 we are soaking up everything around us,’ says Rebecca. ‘We are like sponges, taking in all the information from our parents, caregivers, friends and what we watch on TV. 

‘During this time we can also learn gratitude if we observe it in others around us and through conversations with our parents.’

Rebecca Lockwood is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Hypnosis, TimeLine Therapy®, Positive Psychology & Breakthrough Coach Trainer.

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