I think this has to be the hardest job as a parent. To teach them something that’s not really an action like riding a bike, it’s not a saying either like using your manners. But a way of thinking that affects your actions and the things you say. Gratitude. How on earth can we teach our children about gratitude in this continuous money oriented, want right now world? It’s back to basics with us looking at our own actions first as children look to and learn from their parents first. So as parents if we are not acting gratefully we can hardly be surprised if our children aren’t.
So don’t hide or mutter quietly your thank yous, use them a lot and be proud of them. Thank your children when they do something for you. Not a half-hearted no eye contact kinda thank you. Really mean it and it will come across to them you really mean it. When your children do something for you no matter how small don’t just say thanks and carry on with what you are doing. Stop, turn to them and really mean it. You don’t have to go into overkill physio behavior but just be aware your thank yous might not even be making it out of your mouth.
Try having activities where you encourage them to talk about what they are thankful for. I can be a simple conversation around a dinner table. Or something they can really get involved in. One year I had a second Christmas Tree that was twigged sprayed silver with fairy lights and baubles. I turned it into a thankful tree where I go the children to write what they thanked full for on heart shaped Christmas tags. They were rather slow to start but once they felt comfortable they got into it.
Of course, you won’t have to wait till Christmas or go to that extreme. A simple mason jar on the kitchen window will do the same and then you can all read it back at some point in the year.
Stop being perfect. Being a single mum I learn this by not having the money. When you have children something changes in you. No matter how many times you might have said you’re not going to spoil your child when you see they want something you first reaction is that you want to get it for them as you know it will make them happy. But by doing that your child learns that they can have anything and everything. They feel entitled to everything. For me, this just wasn’t plausible on one income. They went without…a lot. It’s really only now that they are earning that they can buy the things they want. But because its work they have done and their money they appreciate it all so much more and grateful when they do have things.