Strengthening Families – Encouraging Gratitude

strengthening family

encouraging kids

We all know that "please" and "thank you" are an important part of good manners. But encouraging gratitude in our children is about much more than manners. Research shows the people who are grateful are more optimistic, have more energy, and are overall happier. They also are more active and have fewer illnesses. Gratitude makes us feel better about our lives.

Encouraging gratitude doesn't just make individuals happier and healthier, it strengthens families too. Teaching and helping our children live a more grateful life brings more patience and understanding into our homes, more tolerance for one another, and an increased ability to handle disappointments and struggles.

Where does gratitude start? It starts with us. Before we get frustrated that our children are not grateful, we need to look at ourselves. Here are four things we can do as parents to help our children live a more grateful life.

4 Steps Toward Encouraging Gratitude

Live a Life of Gratitude—Our children watch our every move. Whether we know it or not, they see what we do, what we say, and how we deal with those around us. If we want our children to be grateful, we have to model gratitude ourselves. Do we say please and thank you? Do we write thank you notes? Do we thank our children/spouse when they do something kind for us or for each other? For the most part, children do what their parents do. We have to encourage gratitude in our own lives if we want our children to adopt an attitude of gratitude in their lives.

Don't Speak Ill of OthersWhen we complain to our spouse about the neighbor or a co-worker, our children are listening. They hear what we say about others, and saying unkind things will teach them to say unkind things also. It teaches our children to be critical and judgmental. Those characteristics don't lend themselves to encouraging gratitude. If you have to vent about your relationships and interactions with others, do so in private.

Life has more toilets than beaches.

Don't Complain About Daily Work and Chores—It is easy for our daily responsibilities to get the best of us. Complaining, sighing or scoffing about the laundry, dishes, or cooking dinner, teaches our children that those things are miserable. And although sitting on a beach in Hawaii is better than cleaning toilets, life has more toilets than beaches. We want our children to be grateful for the everyday. Grateful they have the mental and physical capacity to serve others. Grateful they learn to keep house, and mow lawns. Grateful for order and organization. No, the dishes might not be our favorite thing to do, but they are part of life and we need to be grateful we even have dishes to wash. Keeping the sighs and moans to ourselves will help to encourage gratitude in our children.

Talk About Gratitude Every Chance You Get—There are opportunities all around us to talk about gratitude. Point out the kind things people do each day. Maybe someone held the door for your family. Maybe a car let you into their lane so you didn't miss your turn. Whatever the situation, point it out and talk about it. Talk about how the gratitude of others makes you feel. Infuse gratitude into as many situations and conversations as possible. It will help you and your children be more mindful of the world around them and help them be more in tune with the needs of others. Encouraging gratitude in our children means talking about gratitude every chance we get.

How do you encourage gratitude in your family?

Grateful Game Printable

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"Grateful Game"

The dinner table is a great place for your family to talk gratitude. Download the "Grateful Game" and it's game pieces here, here and here. It is a fun way to help your family recognize all the blessings around them.

To access all of the Super Hero Family eBooks, including the Gratitude eBook, click here.

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Heather Johnson, M.S., teaches students the principles behind successful families at Brigham Young University. You can find her online at FamilyVolley.com, and connect with her on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.  
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