Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude

The holiday season is fully upon us, with the push to buy, buy, buy at its peak.  Traditional and social media are flooded with ads for the latest and greatest toys and technology. People slept overnight to get the best Black Friday deals, and many shopped on Thanksgiving day itself. The message is that new “stuff” is what the season is all about.

It’s normal for youngsters to be excited at the prospect of receiving a bounty of gifts and gadgets in the coming month. But is the message that “more is better” the one we want our kids to take to heart?

Following are some helpful practices that you can use all year long to help your children cultivate gratitude.

  1. Have you been slipping on your own gratitude practice? Your kids notice what you do, so don’t let the “little” things slide. Be a role model. Remember to say thank you when someone holds the door open or to praise your kids when they do something kind and generous. Instead of telling them to be grateful, focus on showing them how it’s done.
  2. It is OK, however, to remind your kids in a gentle and loving way that you appreciate when they acknowledge what you or others do for them. It’s easy for family members to take each other for granted, so when you put a nice meal on the table or do their laundry, encourage them to get into the habit of saying thanks—and remember to do the same for them.
  3. It’s not unusual for family and guests to have given thanks on Thanksgiving, but why make it a once-a-year practice? Each night at dinnertime, ask your kids what they were grateful for that day, and share your own feelings of gratitude.
  4. Tired of the same old routine of running yourself ragged trying to find that popular holiday toy and then collapsing at the end of an exhaustive day of shopping? Make it a season of true giving by cutting down on the shopping mania and instead volunteering all through the holiday season. Look into what houses of worship or food kitchens are doing, and bring along the kids to help serve others. It’s a powerful reminder that not everyone has family to be with or food to eat, and that they have the power to make a difference.
  5. When gifts do begin arrive from aunts, uncles and other friends and family, make a fun project out of writing thank you notes. The practice provides another lesson of expressing gratitude to someone who has done something thoughtful for them.