The most valuable gift: Teach your children gratitude PermalinkWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Your son has been begging for [insert expensive toy] for weeks. He informs you that all of his friends have one. When he sees it on TV his face lights up and he reminds you how much he wants one. On his birthday, you splurge and decide to finally deliver what he’s been wishing for. For the first weeks it’s his prize possession. Then, something shifts. The toy begins to make it out of the closet less and less and now he’s begging for an even bigger, better version that’s just come out. Sound familiar? In this age of unbridled consumerism, teaching your children gratitude may be the most valuable gift. A University at California Davis study showed that people who are grateful report higher levels of happiness and optimism and lower levels of depression and stress, according to Parents magazine.  Who couldn’t use a refresher? Use these following tips to create a grateful home.

Manners matter. In addition to good etiquette, teaching your children to use the words “please” and “thank you” is a reminder that someone is helping them. Begin using these words at an early age and they’ll become second nature as kids get older.

Just say no. It’s impossible to feel gratitude when your every whim is met. Say no when you need to.

Point out the small things. “Doesn’t the sand feel so good on your feet?” “This apple is so crunchy and juicy.” “We’re so lucky that grandma is able to come visit today.” Call attention to the everyday things that make life a little better and kids are likely to begin discovering them on their own. Before bed, ask what the best part of the day was. Kids will love having your undivided attention and will begin to look forward to the nightly ritual.

Let them pitch in. It’s a lot easier to have empathy for mom doing your laundry when you’re asked to pitch in around the house as well.  Start small. Something as simple as setting and clearing the table is a great reminder of all that goes into preparing a meal and to not take such tasks for granted.

Write thank-notes. After any gift, make sure your kids write a thank you note. Taking a moment to recognize someone has given you something and to contemplate why you like it instantly makes you feel more grateful. Receiving positive feedback on a notes reinforces for kids how small gestures can have a powerful impact.Remember it’s not possible to teach gratitude overnight. The key is consistency.

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