10 Ways to Teach Children About Kindness and Gratitude
Practicing kindness and gratitude are two ways to be happy and make the world a better place. Teaching young kids about gratitude may seem like an uphill battle since everything is usually taken for granted. But there are many ways one can teach their kids to be gracious and kind. Gratitude goes much deeper than just saying please and thank you, it’s a mindset, one that you can develop and cultivate. We as parents must teach our kids to be grateful for the things we receive, the experiences we encounter and so forth.
So how do you teach your child about kindness and gratitude? Here are few ways you can encourage your child to grow up to be a kind human being:
1. Help them understand what kindness means: From a young age, start talking to your kids about kindness. Empathy is something that we are born with as human beings but at the same time it is essential to talk to your kids about what it means. If your kid sees a difficult situation and empathizes with it, it is a great sign. The next step is compassion which is acting on that understanding and empathy.
2. Inspire their imagination: Let your kids inspire and imagine. Being a compassionate person means having an active imagination. Pretend play is a great way for young kids to practice empathy. As your kids get older, you can ask them to imagine more complicated real-life scenarios as you encounter them. Reading is also a great way to teach young kids about kindness and gratitude. They can put themselves in the character's shoes and connect with someone’s experience that is very different from their own.
3. Model the kindness and gratitude you wish to teach: Young kids are very influential so being a good role model is essential here. We cannot control our kid’s behaviour but we can demonstrate kindness and empathy to them. As your kids grow older, they will notice how you interact with people and at what capacity and will learn from you.
4. Encourage kind habits: Encourage your kids to be a part of the community and practice good deeds such as sharing, volunteering, comforting, supporting, championing and so forth. These habits help your child learn good behaviour and they will tend to replicate it in their everyday lives.
5. Help them understand about the effects of kindness: Help your children notice how it feels to be kind and how it makes another person feel. You also want your kids to notice when someone is being kind to them which in turn helps them better understand gratitude.
6. Keep a gratitude journal: A gratitude journal is a great way to instill the power of gratitude in our everyday lives. The act of writing one thing that you are grateful for everyday is a great way to reflect on all the good things in life and commemorate the things that you are thankful for. Encourage your kids to keep a gratitude journal, even if it is in the form of pictures or drawings.
7. Donate your things: Gratitude may be about acknowledging and appreciating the good in your life, but it can also be about extending that gratitude to someone else. Have your child help you go through your closets and make them sort out their clothes, toys and more that can be donated to someone in need.
8. Encourage your child to write thank you notes: There is nothing more heartwarming than writing a thank you note. Have your child write one to anyone that they appreciate. Thank you notes don’t have to be fancy, it just gives your child an opportunity to express themselves. When your child sees how happy a thank you note makes someone, they will realize the power of a modest thank you.
9. Point out generosity: Call attention to whenever someone goes out of their way to do something for you or something that is beyond expected. Being thoughtful to someone else’s needs is a great sign of kindness.
10. Teach them how to be thankful for the little things in life: Help your kids have a greater appreciation for the little things in life. For the roof over their head, for the toys they play with, for the friends they get to socialize with, all of which should never be taken for granted.
Modeling a kind and grateful approach to life will inspire your kids to be more gracious and kind in their own lives. Create opportunities in your daily routine with your kids for teaching good values. Encourage your child to notice when others have been kind. Be mindful of the fact that your kids may have their own way of expressing gratitude even if it does not fit your expectations. Understanding your child’s unique way of being thankful will let them know that even as they are learning new ways to give back, you see and appreciate the thoughtful person they already are. Raising your children to be kind and grateful is one of the most worthwhile things you can do for them. And it will give them the manners that help make the world a kinder and more gracious place for all. Make gratitude and kindness a priority in your home.