As parents I feel that it is our job to help teach our children gratitude. Now that it is almost Thanksgiving we are reminded that we must be thankful and grateful for the things we have. But how do we teach that to our kids? How do we get them to realize that even if things are not going great at this moment, we can still be grateful for everything we do have.
Right now my son is 3 and he is starting to realize that he hates different things. I have even heard him voicing his opinion on the things he hates as he is mad about his current world. As a parent I do not want to discourage him from getting upset and having him want to hid his feelings. However, I do want him to learn how to look at things from a different perspective once he is able to calm down a bit. I want him to be able to see things as a glass half full type of person rather than half empty. I know that this is something that I struggle with and I am hoping that helping him learn how to do this now at a young age will help him later in life.
Some things that I do to help teach him about gratitude and being thankful for what we do have in our lives comes down to some simple questions that I ask him. When your kids start to get older the questions can be a bit more complex and have less prompting.
Once he starts to calm down and I know that he is able to think about things a little better I ask him some of these questions.
Even though this is not something that you like, in this moment can you find one thing that you are happy about?
Asking him this makes him look around at his surroundings and pick out one thing that he is happy about. Some of the things he picks out are his favorite toys that he sees or other things that catch his eye.
I know you do not want to go (to wherever we are going) but can you tell me one thing that you might like once we get there?
Having him think about something that he might like once we are there helps him think ahead and look for something to be excited about.
How would you feel if you did not have that person, thing, or place in your life? Would you miss it/them?
When I ask him this it makes him realize that he is grateful for that person, place or thing. Sometimes he is upset about something else and not actually upset at the person. Helping him navigate this shows him that we can be upset at things and situations. However, we still love and are grateful for the people in our lives.
What is one of the best things that has happened in your day? What was one of the worst?
Asking this question at the end of the day helps him realize that even though some things happen that he does not like, there are still a lot of great things that did happen as well. We always try to end our day with this question. It allows us to talk about all of the good that we have in our lives right before we go to sleep.
I very much believe that the way we perceive our lives has a lot to do with how we think about the things that happen to us. Helping our kids learn how to change their mindset is something that will help them in the long run. I have always been someone that is more pessimistic, however, asking these questions to my son has also helped me to think about the things that have happened to me throughout the day. The mind truly is a powerful thing and for that I am grateful.