Just walk into your nearest Walmart, Target, or grocery store and look around.
My bet is that there are at least 2, 3, maybe even 4 aisles dedicated to Easter...
Now don’t get me wrong.
I love Easter, chocolate and pretty pastel colors.
However, this is a perfect example of how society has taken something completely out of context, jacked it up, made it a Hallmark holiday and engrained in our children that they need more STUFF.
In lieu of this upcoming holiday, here are some proven practices to help you teach your child the art of appreciation and get them to grow up being grateful and having gratitude.
Parents play an integral role in the development of their child because after all gratitude starts at home. There are many ways to help enforce this positive mindset. For starters, start saying “thank you” and actually mean it! If your son or daughter gives you a drawing they made at school try to not only thank them, but also express why it makes you happy. For example, “thank you so much for the drawing. It makes me really happy when you show me what you have done in school”.
Continuing on with the previous idea, another way for families to develop gratitude is to take a moment everyday, maybe around the dinner table, and have everyone share something they are thankful for. Many families do something similar called “3 Roses and a Thorn”. Here everyone shares with one another 3 good things that happened that day and one that was not so good. This idea is great for families because it allows kids to express both the highs and lows of the day. It is a beautiful thing to see your kids express empathy towards each others “torn”.
Another powerful idea is the act of moderation. Buying your kids whatever they want, whenever they want it, will dilute the value and possibly even the respect they have for their possessions. Most young children do not know how big or little the paycheck is so it is important to make them learn that you have to work for your money. Instead of just giving you kids gifts all the time why not make them work for their rewards. Having your kids empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, or even fold the laundry will not kill them.
Engaging your kids in various household activities will make them appreciate the time and effort it takes to get a task done. Do you have children who will often simply refuse to eat their food (especially if it is healthy)? Here is a tip! Have your kids help prepare the food with you. Ask them to carefully cut up some fruit and veggies. By making your kids actively participate in the assembly they will value the end product more (even if it is healthy and be proud of what they have accomplished. Another positive is that this will eliminate screaming matches between you and your kids about finishing their food.
Last but not least it is important to encourage your kids to give back. You do not need to go to the Soup Kitchen every week to do this. However, occasionally exposing your kids to volunteer opportunities will make them more appreciative of what they have. Helping others also makes people feel happy, which makes this a win-win for every party involved!
With all of that being said, it is important to be patient because habits are not built overnight. Don’t worry if your kids have bratty moods once in awhile, as this is a completely normal part of their development. Instead focus on long term learning opportunities and having gratitude go beyond good manners -- and making it a positive mindset and a lifestyle instead.