19 Dec Being Grateful: 7 Ways to Help Your Children
Fear of Missing Out Makes it Difficult to Be Grateful for What they Have
Raising children in today’s world is no easy task. It often seems as though our society demands instant gratification. We often focus on what we don’t have, rather being grateful for what we DO have.
This constant focus on having “the next best thing” can lead us into a vicious cycle of needing “more, more, more.” We must be mindful of the messages we are sending to our children. We can work to ensure that kids can be content with what they have, display gratitude, and demonstrate appreciation.
Here are seven ideas to consider in order to help your child be grateful for what they have:
1. Take your children to volunteer their time and give back to the community.
Taking your children out of their bubble and teaching them that there are people less fortunate than themselves can be a good life lesson. Donating time at a local soup kitchen or food pantry will allow them to recognize there are many families who struggle to provide the most basic necessities. This will be an opportunity to gain powerful perspective-taking skills. They can learn to realize that the latest video game or newest iPhone isn’t as important as they may think. Understanding that there are others in need can help kids be grateful for what they have.
2. Donate clothes and toys to those in need.
Donating a material possession may also have a profound effect on instilling gratitude in children. Parting ways with an outfit they no longer wear or a toy they no longer play with can teach the gift of giving and empathy for others. Even though it may not be the latest toy or the newest trend, knowing the item will bring joy to another child will kids see that you don’t necessarily need the latest and greatest in order to be happy.
3. Create the opportunity for your children to earn their rewards.
While you may be able to provide your children with all of their wishes, there is significant value in making them work to earn these items. Children can set goals for themselves, put in hard work and dedication, and feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to redeem their efforts for a new toy or belonging. Your child will have more appreciation for the item and a new perspective on working towards a goal.
4. Avoid comparing their belongings to what their peers have.
There will always be someone who has more, regardless of your situation. We can help children realize that comparing themselves to their friends or classmates will typically end in disappointment. You can remind them that every family is unique and instead of looking to what they don’t have, focus on the things they do have. Explain that just because their friend or neighbor has more doesn’t necessarily mean they are any happier.
5. Expose children to experiences, not material items
In an era where most of our time is consumed by screens and electronics, we can help kids find joy in activities that don’t require a power cord. Taking a family walk to the neighborhood ice cream store, playing with the family dog in the backyard, or shooting hoops with friends can be more valuable and memorable. Reading books such as The Giving Tree or Have You Filled a Bucket Today? helps kids learn the value of helping others. We often forgot to stop and slow down in our fast-paced lives. You can remind your children they can have fun and be thankful for the quiet moments with family and friends.
6. Take an honest look in the mirror. Teach gratitude by what we do, not what we say.
We all know the saying, “monkey see, monkey do”, but in parenting, simply preaching these ideas to our children will not be sufficient. Instead, we must actively model these behaviors for them. Show your children that life is more than having nice cars, dining at fancy restaurants, and having the newest electronics. Teach them the value of spending quality time with family and friends. Educate them on the importance of laughter. Modeling empathy helps children develop gratitude.
7. Create Healthy Limits
We often want to shower our children with the things we didn’t have growing up. However, this often creates unhealthy boundaries and limits, resulting in children who have difficulty accepting “no” when we can’t give them what they want.
As parents, we need to be mindful of the choices we make and be aware of the values we’re modeling. When we can avoid the trap of getting sucked into the need for instant gratification and the “more, more, more” mentality of society, we and our children can learn gratitude.
North Shore Family Services is a team of skilled and approachable therapists that help parents, children, teens, adults, and couples reduce anxiety and stress, learn effective problem-solving techniques, and manage emotions and behaviors that inhibit personal, school, family, and relationship success. We make therapy a productive, engaging and relaxing place for everyone to work hard and make the improvements they desire. To find the right-fit therapist for you and your family, visit our clinician’s page.