Steps to shape a grateful child

If you value gratitude and appreciation, here are a few ways you can help shape those qualities in your child from a young age.

 A grateful child equals a happy child.

Most parents will agree: We want our kids to be appreciative, grateful, and not take things for granted. Shaping your child to be grateful is an important part of raising a happy, well-mannered, and nice-to-be-around child.

If you are looking for ways to reinforce the importance of gratitude or would like to find other meaningful ways your kids can show appreciation, here are some tips:

Observe your surroundings

Spend time together observing the world around you. Draw your child’s attention to the less fortunate – the homeless, sick or orphaned. This will help them appreciate that what they have isn’t a given – it’s a gift.

Act on statements

Introduce the phrases, “To give to others” or “To help others” to your family identity. For example, say, “In our family, we help others and give to others whenever we can”. Act on these statements. Put a packet of sandwiches and a bottle of water out when you put out your refuse bins each week. There’s always someone hungry digging around for food. Or spend a Sunday morning visiting a retirement village with your kids.

Receive without guilt or shame

Give your child little love gifts like a special treat in his lunch box. Say, “I offer you this to show my love”.

Express your gratitude

Find routine times during the day to express your gratitude. For example, when you sit down to a meal say thank you for the food.

Celebrate the simple things

Take walks in the garden or park and enjoy nature’s bounty. Verbalise your gratitude for all these gifts.

Needs versus wants

Teach your child the difference between needs and wants. Many things we want in life aren’t needs – they’re luxuries. Learning to distinguish between these helps grow gratitude rather than greed.

Practice gratitude daily

Begin with their breath. Introduce this ritual to teach your child each day is a gift. Every day when your child wakes, kiss him and say, “I wish you a beautiful day of life.”

Stop spoiling your child

Don’t replace your inability to ‘be there’ with toys and unhealthy treats. Learn to give a little piece of yourself as a ‘gift’. For example, spray a touch of your perfume on her clothes. Or place a beautiful rock you collected together on the weekend in her pocket when you leave in the morning – call it ‘mommy’ or ‘daddy’s’ love stone.

The art of giving and receiving

You may enjoy buying your child beautiful material things. It may be your love language. To foster gratitude, apply the simple concept of giving one of his old toys or clothes away when he gets something new. This will teach your child the true value of possessions.