Fostering Gratitude in A Season of Giving

Fostering Gratitude in A Season of Giving

11/19/2010

BY ARNA O’NEILL
Children’s Home

Kids can be self-centered. It’s normal for them to think first about themselves, despite all of our efforts to help them be more empathetic or appreciative1.

The good news, though, is that we can help them broaden their perspectives and see beyond themselves. We can help them think about others, and help them approach life with an attitude of gratitude.

Here are a few suggestions for fostering thankfulness in your kids even after Thanksgiving is over:

  • Teach Gratitude by Setting an Example. If we realize that the things that make life hard on us (like mounds of laundry) are frequently the fallout from our blessings (having loved ones to care for), it’s easier to feel grateful and to share it with our kids. We can transform our grumbles into thanks by saying things like, “Yes, we do need to clean up the house, but aren’t we lucky to have a house to keep us safe and warm?”
  • Reward Thankfulness. When they say “Thanks, Mom!” stop what you’re doing, get eye-level with them, give them a hug, and tell them how much you appreciate their appreciation.
  • Give them a Reality Check. We don’t necessarily want to traumatize our kids by making them watch videos of babies from the Third World starving to death, but we can challenge their assumptions about the things they take for granted. Simple comments can teach our children that they have much more than many others.
  • Help Them Give to Others. Give them the opportunity to give to others and make someone else happy and grateful. Help them choose and support a cause that they feel is important, like donating a food-producing animal to a family, making blankets for foster children, or protecting wildlife. Also, tell them about the things you do to help others. Many parents give charitably in many ways but don’t tell their kids about it.
  • Create Rituals for Giving Thanks. Your family may already participate in certain holiday rituals at Thanksgiving each year, like having everyone say what they are thankful for. Or some families have everyone write down what they’re thankful for on a paper leaf and save them year after year with the person’s name and year written on it.

By focusing on all that you and your kids have to be grateful for, you can use everyday moments to make gratitude and thankfulness a part of your family’s daily life. Simple comments like “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” or “Aren’t we lucky to have each other in our family?” will help foster in your children an awareness of how much they have to be thankful for.

The holidays are once again drawing near. As you look forward to holiday gift giving, perhaps you would consider a gift to the Children’s Home. If a gift is made to honor a loved one, we will be happy to send a card to that person acknowledging the gift on their behalf.

You may also want to consider fulfilling a child’s wish list. We have individual lists available, or you may choose from the “most requested items” list, found at http://www.chowc.org/help.cfm.

We Would Appreciate All Gifts Unwrapped And Received By MONDAY, DECEMBER 6. Our Ratio Of Children Is 2/3 Boys To 1/3 Girls. Our Ages Range From 5 to 21, The Majority Being 10 To 17 Years Of Age. Items Containing Parental Guidance Warnings Are Discouraged. CD’s Should Be Edited Versions. No Used Items Or Food Products. Click here to view this year's wish list>>

For more information on the Children’s Home, call 800-772-6904, ext. 13,1 or visit our Web site at www.chowc.org. Campus tours are available. Please feel free to send donations directly, or use the New York Annual Conference advance number, 60-0588.

 

[1] Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. at www.justmommies.com