Learning gratitude allows children to become sensitive to other peoples’ feelings. A grateful child or young adult has empathy for people less fortunate and are able to put themselves in another person’s shoes.
Not only does teaching your child gratitude give him or her necessary life skills, but a 2003 study conducted by the University of California at Davis found that grateful people are happier and have lower levels of depression and stress.
Wondering how to teach a child to be grateful? The holiday season presents a great opportunity. Here are six ways to instill gratitude in your child during the holidays:
1. Let your kids help to decide, select and wrap gifts. Involve your child in making the list of recipients, selecting gifts in the store, and even wrapping the presents. The more that a child participates, the more that he or she will realize that all of this takes effort.
2. Write thank-you notes. Having your child write thank-you notes will not only help him or her learn how to articulate gratitude, it will make the gift-giver feel appreciated. Download our Gerber Life free Thank-You letter template and have your child fill in the blanks to express his or her thanks.
3. Find a goodwill project in which your child can participate. During the holiday season, it’s relatively easy to find charitable ways to give back. It’s important that you talk with your child about why both of you are participating in the project. Discuss how you are doing something for someone in need, and emphasize how happy the recipient will be.
4. Encourage generosity. Most children expect that they will receive presents during the holidays, but many children are not as fortunate. Consider having your child select one of his or her toys to donate to someone in need. Again, talk with your child about how he or she will be doing something special for a child who might not otherwise receive a gift.
5. Go slowly when opening presents on the “big day.” Instead of letting your child go “wild” in a gift-opening frenzy, have family and friends give your child one present at a time. If you have multiple children, consider allowing one child at a time to open only one present at a time while everyone else watches. This can help to teach patience while hopefully allowing a few minutes of appreciation to set in.
6. Put less emphasis on presents. Rather than having the holiday focus on the opening of gifts, place the emphasis on other aspects such as religious, charitable, decorating and baking cookies, making a big holiday meal, or visiting with family.