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How to Teach Your Children Gratitude

Because of children's "do nothing to get everything" attitudes, they have become experts at craving entitlement, and behaving like brats. Simply put, they lack gratitude.
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Written By: Jotina Buck

In an age of instant gratification and entitlement, there aren't many authentic opportunities to develop a sincere appreciation for much of anything. We live in a society where a microwave mentality is socially acceptable. With the touch of a button, everything is at our children's disposal. Want a new game? Simply go to the app store and download it. Want the latest iPhone or technology gadget? Pre-order it months before it's released. As an educator, I often see children rewarded for simply showing up to school. Children are given "goodie bags" for attending school.

Because of children's "do nothing to get everything" attitudes, they have become experts at craving entitlement, and behaving like brats. Simply put, they lack gratitude. After having enough ungratefulness in my classroom, I decided to have a conversation with my former second-grade class about gratitude. A student curiously raised his hand and asked, "Ms. Buck what is gratitude?" In that moment, I knew that textbook learning wasn't doing enough.

I have discovered that we don't have to teach children how to be pessimistic, mean, and ungrateful. The world somehow teaches those things. Instead, our mantle lies in training them to be positive first responders in continuing to fill their hearts with gratitude in every situation. The best and most effective way to teach children gratitude is through modeling. As an educator and mommy, I have learned children practice what you show them quicker than what you tell them. In my book Change Your Language, Change Your Life, I devote an entire chapter to the topic of gratitude. Chapter 28 is titled, "The Importance of Expressing Gratitude Each Day." I passionately share with readers that gratitude is a muscle and it needs a workout every day. Gratitude has to be a lifestyle.

Practicing little things like saying "please" and "thank you" are usually the breeding ground for instilled gratitude. Embed gratitude into the daily fabric of your life. Asking a toddler to keep a gratitude list is farfetched. Asking a teenager who is unwilling to be thankful for what they have and do not have is sometimes a task. Even adult to adult interactions should exude expressed gratitude. Gratefulness should permeate our daily conversations.

Children usually ask for things every other minute from ads on gaming apps, and commercials on television, to seeing their peers wearing the hottest fashion and using the latest gadgets. Parents must get comfortable with saying "no". If children are granted their every wish, it lessens their appreciation. You get children to feel more grateful by limiting their access. Helping them realize that those things are a luxury is key. For example, in my house, there are no electronic devices on school days. Hence, my daughter is more appreciative when she is given the opportunity to indulge in toys and smart devices. "No" is a complete sentence, use it as freely as you need to.

Teaching children to give and recognize giving as a gift is vital to breeding a lifestyle of gratitude. This could be achieved by doing something as small as allowing them to buy the meal of the family next in line for the evening or as elaborate as going to the local shelter to spend time with families. Engage in random acts of kindness. Encourage them to do something nice for others with no reason or motivating cause other than just being nice.

The life attraction principle is real. You get what you give. Give gifts that enhance personal growth and togetherness. In lieu of gifts that children will break in days or months, invest in swimming or guitar lessons. Buy tickets for a family night of skating. These gifts usually build confidence, togetherness, and personal growth.

Gratitude is contagious. Set out each day to combat negativity with positivity. You will soon see it overflow into the lives of the little ones around you. Be consistent in using positive language. Keep a gratitude journal of the things they're grateful for with your child. I have learned that we must be intentional with how we respond to undesirable situations. Our children are always watching.

Honestly, gratitude is the most important gift. Expressing gratitude creates mental space for mindfulness and keeps your thoughts flowing with positive energy. This mindset is a breeding ground for all things fruitful. We see the world differently when we are thankful for even the smallest thing.

Extending gratitude is fulfillment for the soul. Life isn't simply about getting the things you want, but more so about aligning yourself to put out all that you expect to receive. Align your life by practicing gratitude and showing your children to do the same and you will unlock unlimited possibilities.

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Jotina is no stranger to loss, failure and hardship. Her story of losses and triumphs evokes change across the world as she is an International Speaker. She is trained in mind mapping, positive psychology, visioning and spiritual development. Her creative approaches to create change and produce sustainability are truly world class change agents.

Check out www.jotinabuck.com for more details on her Amazon's Best Seller Change Your Language, Change Your Life: Discovering What You Can Say Differently Today to Change Your Tomorrow and for details on her Life Change Workshops. For booking email info@jotinabuck.com. Be sure to follow on social media @jotinab.