1. What are the benefits of cultivating an attitude of gratitude in our children?
According to research, children with gratitude develop empathy for others as well as increased feelings of happiness, forgiveness and patience. A sense of gratitude can help lower stress and give children the opportunity to relate to other people’s feelings, leading to overall feelings of wellbeing and belonging.
2. How do parents with younger children (5 and under) get started? Can you give some practical examples?
With younger children modeling is the best approach. Allow children to witness you showing gratitude. Say “please” and “thank you” when interacting with others and speak to children in the way you would like for them to speak. For example, “Thank you for picking up your toys. That was very helpful.” Children are always watching and learning so give them opportunities to see you being grateful.
3. What are some ways parents of school-age children and teens can build and nurture the skill of being grateful?
Heading into the holiday season provides many opportunities to build and nurture this skill. Get children involved in local charities. Collect food for food drives, donate old toys and clothes to local shelters, or allow your children to help prepare a meal for a family in need. Take time to talk with your children about why these acts of service are important and discuss what your family is grateful for.
4. What are some behaviors or attitudes in children that have a negative effect on gratitude? How can we redirect our children when they express these attitudes?
Some attitudes and behaviors that can have a negative effect include not helping out, expecting to always get their way, not accepting “no” for an answer, extreme focus on materialistic wants, not being grateful, and feelings of entitlement. When children express these behaviors and attitudes, parents can use these moments as a teaching opportunity. It is important to acknowledge and validate the feelings but then help them to find gratitude in that moment. For example, “I know you really wanted the Star Wars Lego set, but let’s look at the fun things you can do with this set and tell your friend thank you for the gift.”
5. What resources do you recommend for parents who want more help in this area?
Books for Parents:
Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World — by Kristen Welch
The Me, Me, Me, Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World — by Amy McCready
Jenelle is a Licensed Professional Counselor who holds a
Master’s degree in Counseling from Heidelberg University.
She offers counseling for a number of issues and specializes in working with young children.
She has office hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and is
currently accepting new patients at Mind Body Health Associates
located at 200 West Lima Street in Findlay, 567-525-3311