Instilling Gratitude in Toddlers
Gratitude is something that’s learned. None of us are born being grateful for anything. It’s something that is shown to us by the actions of others, so it’s very important for us to remember to instill that sense of gratitude in our toddlers while they're young enough to have it firmly imprinted on their minds.
Gratitude it the Easiest Thing to Learn
For being such an important lesson to learn, gratitude is remarkably easy to teach to our children. It all starts at home and with the smallest things.
Say Thank You
It may seem small, but saying thank you to the people around you, including your little one, is a great way to teach them about gratitude. Of course, in day to day life, you might not thank your husband or wife for every little thing they do for you, but that’s exactly the way to teach the little guy or girl watching all about gratitude. Remember to thank the little one, too. Every kiss, hug, and helping hand given should be followed by a thank you.
Don't Spoil Them
Everyone always wants their kids to have it better than they did, but showering them with stuff isn't going to make that happen. In fact, it’s really hard to have a sense of gratitude for anything when you have anything and everything you want whenever and wherever you want it.
Resist the urge to get your toddler everything he or she sees. If it’s something major, wait for their birthday or Christmas. Anticipation is a great way to teach gratitude. By the same token, instant gratification is a wonderful way to completely miss the boat on gratitude.
Live a Grateful Life
If you’re religious, make sure that your prayers include a portion about how grateful you are for the wonderful things in your life. Whether or not you’re religious, make sure you toddler understands how lucky the entire family is to have what you do.
For example, if you’re going to the zoo, a prime opportunity to instill a sense of gratitude is to tell your kid or kids, “The zoo is going to be so much fun today! I’m so happy we get to spend the day here with you. There are lots of kids that don’t have a zoo, and we’re so lucky that we do!”
Gratitude is a Great Way to Live
A grateful life is a good life, and we all want our kids to have good lives. So start teaching them to live a grateful life now. Living life with a sense of gratitude avoids all the ugliest of human side of nature like entitlement and a need for immediate gratification. It also fosters a helpful spirit.
When you have a spirit of gratitude for the people and things in your life, you are far more likely to help another person who doesn’t have it as good as you. Isn’t that exactly the kind men and women that we as parents want to raise?