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Parenting Part 1 – Inculcating The Habit of Gratitude Among Children

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Inculcating The Habit of Gratitude
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Gratitude is the ability to appreciate the positives in life, irrespective of how big or small that may be. In essence, being grateful implies that we learn to value the smaller everyday aspects of life; situations, things, or people, who we otherwise take for granted or end up ignoring, simply because we are too used to it. 

Gratitude is not just value but it is also a choice which we make on a daily basis. The practice of Gratitude and being grateful, can be traced to positive psychology and also finds mention in the Mindfulness approach to life. 

Surprisingly, however, this is a value which in spite of being so critical to our everyday sense of happiness, we don’t teach to our kids. We teach the younger lot about patience, trust, loyalty, and so on. 

Neither at home nor at schools, do we try to inculcate this habit among our children. But don’t we expect them to be grateful toward us adults, for all the things that we “do” for them? We sure bash them up for not being more thankful or obliged to us, adults for doing the things that we do, or did for them in the past.

For a skill which is highly beneficial, Gratitude is one of the most difficult ones to practice as well; simply because no one ever taught us to. Let’s try and avoid making our children go through the same difficulty and let’s put Gratitude at par with the other basic skills which we impart to our children, right from a young age. 

Here are some quick suggestions for inculcating the habit of gratitude among children:

  1. Gratitude Jar: Children of all age groups will enjoy doing this activity. On a daily basis, ask your child to write down one thing that they are grateful about on a chit, and put in the jar. Periodically, you and your child can together open the jar and go through the chits collected and reminisce over those things put in the jar. The gratitude jar can be your child’s go-to boost of positivity when they are feeling low and can also act as a reminder for times, when they feel that things are not going in their favor.
  2. Talk about it: If you talk about being grateful for simple things in life, and acknowledge the joy it brings you, even your child will. Children learn through imitating parent’s behavior. So, if you want your child to be more grateful, display that gratefulness yourself. 
  3. Spend time with your children, mindfully: When you are with your kids, be with them completely. If you become absorbed in them, while you are with them, it will help them understand that you value the relationship with them, allowing them to be more grateful of the efforts you put in. 
  4. Encourage helping behavior: Being kind, and helping others, goes a long way in inculcating the habit of kindness among children. Also, when helping others, children develop bonds, friendships and thus, become more grateful in life.
  5. Say Thank – You more often: Be sincere when you are saying Thank-You and say it more often. When we say Thank-You more frequently and for the smaller things in life, like when you buy something at the grocery shop, or when a waiter serves your table, you are modeling positive behavior among children.

Some other common ways in which one can learn the habit of gratitude is by practicing ‘Mindfulness’, and the many versions of it. A technique that I came across some months ago, is known as ‘Savouring’. An offshoot of mindfulness, the technique of savouring asks us to think back to a pleasant situation that we were in, for example, a morning walk, and then savour the positive memories & feelings experienced during that task/situation. Savouring allows us to be in the moment and also makes us appreciate the efforts that we had put in to do something. 

It would suffice to say, that Gratitude is a way of being, a way of existence; and being grateful is one crucial aspect that allows us to be in a state of Gratitude.   

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