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BONUS: Practicing Gratitude
There is always something for which a child can be grateful, but sometimes in their quest for the latest and greatest, children forget all the things they already have. Luckily, this period of staying at home provides plenty of time to help develop your child’s attitude of gratitude.
Here are five ways to encourage appreciation and gratefulness in children (plus some useful books on the topic that you might already have or can easily download from your local library):
1. Cost correlation
Teach them what things cost in a relatable, practical way. Is your 7-year-old begging you for a laptop or smartphone? Tell her the cost, but also share with her how many hours of work that amount of money means for you as her parent. As we’ve all heard before, money doesn’t grow on trees, and the more children understand the process by which it is earned, the better they’ll grasp exactly how big of an ask they are making.
Want a fun book for younger kids to start understanding the concept of money a little better? Check out the adorable Sheep in Shop by Nancy Shaw.
2. A word of thanks
When your child receives a gift, whether it’s a holiday gift received in the mail from his Nana in another state or an e-gift card from a classmate, be sure he sits down and writes a thank you note to the gift giver. If he’s too young to write, he can always draw a picture. This instills gratefulness in your child and teaches him to respect and appreciate others.
Check out the entertaining Thank You, Miss Doover, for a humorous read on children learning to write thank you notes.
3. Out with the old
Is the play area in your home overflowing with toys that just don’t see the light of day anymore? Perhaps it is time to help your child sort her toys and decide what she wants to keep and what she’s willing to pack away to give to someone in need once things get back to normal. This is especially useful just before a child’s birthday or other big gift-giving holidays. This process is an opportunity to remind your child how lucky she is to have in abundance and gets her thinking about empathy.
Want to give it a try? Start out by reading Too Many Toys with your child to get her prepared for the decluttering mission that lies ahead.
4. Here to serve
Exposing your child to the world around him helps to show that not everyone is afforded the same opportunities or fortunes in life. While COVID-19 makes it hard to get out and volunteer in the same ways you might typically give of your time, there are still plenty of ways to help. Get your child involved in giving back in simple ways, like brightening up the neighborhood with chalk art or having them wave a friendly hello to everyone who walks by. Explain how these acts of kindness can help others feel better during this difficult time.
Advance the notion of giving by letting your children help decide how much tip to leave for your dinner delivery worker or have a family discussion about donating to one of your favorite businesses that is feeling significant effects from the pandemic.
A staple in the world of children’s books, The Giving Tree, is a great read to teach kids about generosity.
5. Just say no
We all want our kids to be happy so it can be hard to tell them “no” when they are asking for things that we could, feasibly, manage to get them. But every case of the “gimmes” doesn’t require a yes from mom or dad. In fact, teaching children that they don’t always get something just because they want it means they may learn to appreciate what they have a whole lot more. Some psychologists even argue that hearing “no” builds character in children.
Read I Just Don’t Like the Sound of No to help your little one accept “no” as the final answer.