100 Family Media Literacy Activities, Ages Pre-School through Teen Years
Are You a “High Hopes” Parent?
Attending to Our Children’s Attention Span
Building the Foundation for Resiliency Skills
Live and Play in Your World: Stimulus Addiction and the Growing Brain
Looking for Meaning in All the Right Places
Parenting Today: The World Has Changed, Have We?
Parenting as a Living System
Reading the Screen
Screen Time and Obesity
Screen Violence: Impact on Self as Relational Being
Teaching Children Gratefulness
Teaching Children Gratefulness
by Gloria DeGaetano, CEO and Founder, The Parent Coaching Institute and author of Parenting Well in a Media Age, winner of the 2007 Best Products i-Parenting Award
We teach our children to say “Thank You,” to write messages of appreciation when they receive gifts, and to express gratitude toward their teachers by kindnesses throughout the school year. Gratefulness is demonstrated by these actions.
Gratefulness is a way of being in the world.
Learning this “attitude of gratitude” can be an exciting adventure. It may be a journey of a lifetime, but many steps can be taken in childhood. Here are four key ideas to try with your children:
Say What You Appreciate
We don’t give up parental authority when we let our children know we appreciate them. “I appreciate how you picked up your room this morning” is an accurate statement of positive behavior, as well as an honest declaration of how the positive behavior impacts you. Children and teens hear an authentic acknowledgment from us as validation—hey, if mom thinks I’m on the right track then I must be! A healthy sense of personal agency develops from this inner recognition, along with self-appreciation. And a bonus—verbally stating what we appreciate about our children teaches them to appreciate that about themselves.
Guide Children to Express Their Thanks Often
With busy days it’s so easy to move quickly from one activity to another without much thought. Pausing in order to direct children to express their thanks means we have to slow down. For example, when we shop with our child, we may have bought her new clothes or his much-wanted toy and now we’re rushing to get to the grocery store to make it home in time for dinner in time to go to the PTA meeting—you know how it is. With a few deeps breaths to gain more presence in the moment, we may realize that our child hasn’t yet said, “Thank You” to us for the purchase. On the ride to the grocery store, a “thank you” reminder makes sense. When we ourselves take time and allow a slower pace on occasion, we’ll be able to nudge our children to express thanksgiving. Children feel what they express…and they may not feel grateful until they express it!
The dreaded “time-out” has negative connotations for a lot of kids because it means they are taken from the family interaction and sequestered by themselves for their misbehavior. But many kids opt for their own “time-out” by choosing time with screen technology. Neither of these “time-outs” helps children enjoy developing an interior life. You can introduce your child to the satisfaction of self-discovery by encouraging time-in—a special time for your child to just sit and think on a selected topic, for time inside his/her own mind. Ask your child or teen on a regular basis to take five minutes and just sit and reflect on all the things he or she is grateful for. Talk about the experience afterwards. You can ask such questions as: “How did it feel to mentally list all the blessings in your life?” Older children and teens may be ready to keep a “gratitude journal.” This is a special blank book or notebook where they write down what they appreciate in their lives.
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Copyright © Gloria DeGaetano, 2009. All rights reserved. No reprinting rights granted without the author’s permission.
For information on receiving permission to reprint this article by obtaining your own PDF version, please click here or contact Gloria DeGaetano by phone at 425-753-0955 or by e-mail at info@GloriaDeGaetano.com