Content Writer: Sarah Udoh, Vine Crest College
TEACHING CHILDREN THE ACT OF GRATITUDE
Have you ever helped someone in need and in return the person appreciates the kind gestures? said a well thought out thank you or appreciation? I guess the next time the person calls for help, you will gladly offer help. However, if the reaction you got from the person was a sense of entitlement for your help, you might be reluctant to help the person another time.
How a child looks at life affects their ability to be grateful. Glasses can clarify a vision, and a grateful attitude can open more doors of opportunity and blessing for your children. Funny enough, gratitude is an attitude with a g and r. Do your children focus on what they have or what they don’t have? A grateful child is more fun to be around than a nagging, complaining and selfish child.
Gratitude is more than a feeling, it involves action! It is the act of letting others know by our words and actions how they have benefitted our lives. The ultimate test of gratitude is finding reasons to be thankful, even during tough times.
“Gratitude originates from the heart and then opens our eyes to the beauties of nature and the richness of friendships most dear,” says Stephen Covey.
Sadly, gratitude is not natural, it is a character that should be taught and nurtured. Too often it takes the force of circumstance rather than the force of conscience to stir up our gratitude. The big question is, how do we teach children to be grateful?
One form of teaching children gratitude is by making them aware of the good things and the privileges they enjoy, which they should be grateful for. Another way of practising gratitude is by appreciating the efforts for a kind gesture received. It is a way of telling another you appreciate them for who they are. When we make others feel good about themselves, we feel good too!
A Greek proverb tells us, “swift gratitude is the sweetest.” It amplifies this story of the one leper who returned gratitude to Jesus, whereas the other nine went their own way, stressing the need for gratitude to be swift rather than delayed.
We must teach children to practice gratitude early in childhood, otherwise, they might grow up with an awkward sense of entitlement for the benefits they receive from others. Children should express gratitude every day in the way they take care of themselves and their belongings. They should learn to say “thank you” politely or write a note to express their appreciation.
To cultivate a habit of gratitude in children, we must teach them to count their benefits, simplify expectations, identify benefactors, make time to appreciate and express their thanks in a variety of ways. They should remember many people crave the life they have.
Gratitude is a currency that can yield multiple folds when applied in life.