In a materialistic world, we sometimes let reality get away from us and end up dwelling on the things that we don’t have rather than the blessings that we do have. We dwell on how our possessions define us, when what defines us is not what we own, but how we are. It matters more than anything that a child sees their elders emulate the healthy qualities of character that make them into a well-rounded adult.
Talk about the things that you are thankful for in your life instead of what you wish you had, urge them to do the same, and then help them to understand that not everyone is as fortunate. Even when a family is on a tight budget, small gestures to those in need can lead by example. A lot of us have had bad times in our lives where someone helped us out, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of – if anything, it takes a strong person to admit that they need help, and a big heart to help others.
Ways to Start
Did you know that being thankful and showing gratitude can make you a happier, healthier person? Being having that attitude of gratitude can go a lot of good things for you physically and mentally – even to helping you get a better night’s sleep. Here are some activities to help you start the season, and show how sharing one’s blessings is a way to show thankfulness for the blessings that you have.
- Make gratitude a habit. Start with writing an entry in a journal, or even having everyone in the family put a post it note on the refrigerator with something they feel grateful for.
- Take it social. In a world where some of the worst impulses make social media, use Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and other outlets to raise the subject.
- Don’t denigrate. Little children are grateful for simple things – a favorite toy, a friend, a favorite food. Don’t put them down for being grateful for different things than older kids and adults.
- Open up about the bad times in your life, and what helped you through – whether it’s a person or an organization – and how they helped you.
- Ask everyone at the end of the day what blessings they’ve given and what they’ve received from others.
Give Kids a Chance
You’ll find that kids are often much more generous, altruistic, and empathetic than adults, and the younger they start, the more the “attitude of gratitude” stays with them. Remember, you as a parent or parents are the principal influence in your kids’ lives. You have to demonstrate and live the behavior that you want them to emulate and be the change you want to see take hold. You have to counter enormous cultural influences from the media, video games, and their peers to build a self-confident, emotionally resilient, and grounded human being. It’s a hard job, because it demands the best of you, but you will raise amazing, connected, and ethical kids for the world’s future.