I grew up as a kid playing with Transformers, GI Joe, and Hot Wheels. I remember how much joy it brought me when my parents would surprise me with an action figure for doing good in school – and how much I appreciated them for that.
But, it’s not the same thing with kids these days.
In today’s world of smartphones and the internet, everything kids want is literally at their fingertips. Because of this, kids often grow up expecting to instantly get what they want, whenever they want it.
The problem with this is they often don’t value what they have as much as earlier generations. This sometimes also leads to children being self-absorbed, and unaware or indifferent to what’s going on in the world around them.
That’s why as a parent, it’s important to be intentional about teaching our kids how to be grateful for what they have. This means we have to actively take steps to teach our kids how to live a life of gratitude.
Making Gratitude a Routine
Here’s a simple parenting hack that I use to teach my boys (ages 6 and 4) how to be more grateful:
Every night, either at dinner time or as my boys say their prayers, they have to answer this question:
What are three things that you’re grateful for today?
Here’s how it works.
My boys must share three things from their day that they’re grateful for. It could be as simple as “I’m grateful I got to play with my best friend at school today,” or “I’m grateful we had my favorite tacos for dinner.”
Nothing is too small or too big for them to share. The point is we’re building a habit of daily gratitude.
Simple Steps to Give This Exercise
There’s one rule we follow with sharing our daily gratitude list. That is, they can’t repeat the thing they were grateful for from the day before. This is helpful for a few reasons:
- It makes them reflect on each day more deeply, and see how each day’s blessings are unique
- It makes them think about their experiences more as they’re occurring throughout the day (because they know Daddy is going to ask them to share later that night)
- They’re less likely to take things for granted, and recognize that everything they have is a blessing
To add an additional twist, I write down everything that they’re grateful for in my note taking app (I use Evernote on my phone). You can use whatever note taking system you prefer – even pen and paper to get the job done.
The amazing thing about keeping track of the list is that after a few months we accumulated hundreds of things that my boys have shared which they’re grateful for.
I read those to them every so often, and it always puts a smile on their faces to remember just how many good things have happened in their lives.
What’s the Benefit of Raising
Grateful kids don’t simply expect things to fall in their lap. They’re a lot more reflective, which helps them appreciate and value what they already have, and what they’re being given.
Kids who are grateful also tend to be more caring and sensitive to the needs of others. They recognize that what they have is a blessing, so they’re less selfish and self-centered.
As an added bonus, doing this grateful exercise with your kids every night provides an opportunity to communicate as a family – instead of being absorbed in tablets and smartphones – which can be corrosive to family bonding
Being Intentional is Key
As parents we have to be intentional about teaching our kids gratitude, because it definitely doesn’t happen by accident.
It may not be easy at first, but kids learn fast, especially when we make it a priority. With time it becomes a habit, and you’ll begin to see the results in your kids as they interact with your family and with their friends.