If I take an inventory of the people in my life who demonstrate an attitude of gratefulness, I find without fail that they are also the happiest people I know. The ones who are self-centered and unappreciative no matter what you do for them are, by nature, just not happy in life.
I have friends who are wealthy, and I have friends who live from paycheck to paycheck. But what they have or don’t have doesn’t determine their happiness. Each of them has an attitude of gratefulness. They show their appreciation for every act of kindness and any gift bestowed. No matter what you do for them, they make you feel that it is fantastic.
This causes me to ponder again the question of how to teach our children gratitude. Here are five things we know for sure:
1. No one is born grateful—it must be taught.
2. Grateful people have a greater feeling of optimism and overall well-being.
3. Gratitude is more than simply saying, “Thank you.” It springs from an understanding of value–the value of people and the value of things.
4. If we want our children to be grateful, we must live out an attitude of gratitude before them.
5. The opposite of gratitude is entitlement. In an effort to love our children, we often unintentionally create a feeling of entitlement in them.
It is important that you show your appreciation when your very young child goes out of his way to choose a flower, draw a picture, or pick up the trash for you. It is also important that you openly express gratitude to those around you so that you child catches the attitude of gratitude.
While it may be fun for YOU to indulge your child’s every whim, remember it is our job as adults to give our children the skills they need to be successful and HAPPY. Teaching our children to be grateful is one way we can equip them for life.
Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.