Raising Thankful Kids

With a silver spoon or a silver lining?

As the year comes to an end, give your child the gift of gratitude. What am I talking about, you wonder?! Well, as a parent and as a professional working with parents and kids, I often come across parents saying ‘kids today are so hard to satisfy…when they want, they want it now..AND when they get it, it holds their attention for a bit and then they want something else….”  Am sure you get the picture!

So, here is something to think about…do you think we are raising a generation of “I NEED…I WANT…ITS NOT ENOUGH’ kids? I think to some extent we are. Part of that is a reflection of our own values as a society where we are so invested in acquiring  more and wanting more…be it a new gadget, a bigger car or the latest fashion trend. We seem to be in a constant rush and frenzy as we live life by our ‘wish lists’. Think about it, when was the last time you took a pause and put on the brakes, to appreciate all the things you already have?

So, in case you are thinking, ‘Okay we get that, but apart from the obvious reasons, why should we teach our children to be grateful and thankful?’ Here is WHY! Research has proven that when we teach our children to be thankful and count their blessings, it develops resiliency, happiness and a positive attitude to life. While having a thankful outlook will not change the events in their lives, it definitely changes the way they perceive them. As children learn to find and acknowledge their blessings, even in the midst of difficult times, they learn that problems can be conquered and difficulties can be solved.

So, now that we know why it’s important for our kids to learn to be grateful and thankful, the next questions to answer is, ‘How do we help our children develop this life skill?’

The answer is closer than you think, as it starts with you! Here are some tips:

  1. Model Being Thankful – while this seems obvious, how many times do we take the time to verbalise that we are thankful and share that with our children? When parents express thankfulness for things in their life, children learn to do the same thing. Remember there is no better role model than you!
  2. Thankful treeBe a Thankful Family – made a concerted effort to help your children identify all the things you are thankful for as a family, starting with having each other! Gather your family together and create a ‘Thankful Tree’. It’s simple – each of you draws an outline of your hands and then writes/illustrates what you are thankful for. Discuss and process this as a family. Encourage the kids to think beyond their new toys, and look at other things like, “I am thankful I can draw well’ or ‘I am thankful that I have good friends’. Creating your ‘Family Thankful Tree’ is also a great way to bond and have fun as a family! Here is an example of one we did…the kids will love it and so will you!
  3. See Gratitude Everywhere – it’s easy to be grateful when the going is good, right?  So, as you develop this habit of gratitude, take it to the next level by showing your kids how to be grateful even when things appear less perfect and not so rosy.  For example, “Yes, the rain means your field trip gets postponed and I know you were looking forward to having fun with your friends, but the rain is great for the trees and the crops, and the earth really needed that! And you will still get to go to your field trip next week…”

So, parents rather than raising children ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’, lets raise our children to be the ‘silver lining’ kind of children that can focus on the positive, even as stormy clouds enter their lives today or tomorrow!

Happy Parenting and see you in the New Year with a Thankful and Grateful Heart!

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children. This blog was written by Aparna Balasundaram, Psychotherapist and Life Skills Expert.