All the parents I’ve talked with would like their children to grow up to be respectful and generous adults. How can this be accomplished in a simple, and easy way? Obviously, it isn’t accomplished by nagging or yelling or “shoulding”.
There is an effective way to produce thankful, generous children. I call it using “The Two ‘Gs'”.
G #1. Teach your child to be grateful. This is straight forward – except you must remember to do it daily! Just be grateful yourself, out loud, several times a day, in front of your kids. This requires a mindset of gratefulness personally and you may need to put a note on the fridge or on the bathroom mirror to remind yourself to do it. The more often you are thankful, expressing gratitude for things you have or experience in your life, the more likely you’ll find your children doing the same thing. You’ll likely find you become a happier, calmer person in the process!
A great way to inspire children’s gratitude is to play a little game at the dinner table, asking everyone to talk about three things they were grateful for that day. Everyone has a turn and no one is criticized or put down. Not only do children start to think about being grateful, but kids learn to respect others’ ideas and experiences. Another positive result is increased family communication which lasts into adult years.
G #2. Teach your child to be generous. This does require thought on your part, as you need to mindfully share with others, again being a role model for your family. You might decide to donate clothing you no longer wear, or clothing your kids have outgrown. Books can be donated to lending libraries, food to a food bank. The list is endless, once you start to think about it. You might also decide to donate your time to volunteer at your child’s school or to help someone in need.
Again, a good way to generate ideas is to have a discussion with the family. What do the kids think would be a good way to help others? What could the family share? They could help choose clothing they no longer wear, or toys they’ve outgrown. The key is to have them participate in the decision. Kids have great ideas and need to be commended for them. Avoid judgment and be sure others don’t criticize. You can go together to deliver donations. The feeling of helping others is very powerful. It produces a unique “high” that receiving a gift just doesn’t do.
This is the season for gift giving and thankfulness. Many parents are worried that their children are too self-indulgent or self-absorbed. If you shift the focus from “getting” to giving and sharing, if you teach your kids to think of others, you are sowing the seeds of generosity and gratitude for a lifetime.
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