With the holidays right around the corner and all the hustle and bustle that comes with this time of year, it is often difficult to take time to slow down, reflect and really take inventory of what is truly important.
Thanksgiving is only a week away, so what better time of year not only for adults to be thankful but to instill gratitude and thankfulness in children?
It can be difficult to convey the simple concept of being thankful when the current generations have never known life without the luxuries of the Internet, smartphones and other forms of immediate gratification. Material things are considered important, and many have a sense of entitlement to such things from their parents.
It can be easy to forget that other people are not necessarily as fortunate; that others might go to bed hungry or live in poverty, with little concern about the newest fad.
Learning the above lessons often comes with experience and age, but small things can be done to instill a sense of thankfulness early on.
It is up to us as adults to help introduce the youth of today to this concept of gratitude. Children and even teens do not instinctively develop a philosophy of being thankful. They learn as they grow, by witnessing behaviors of others and by the examples we as adults set.
We can be role models for our children and teenagers by the choices we make every day. Below are just a few examples of simple yet effective ways to incorporate being thankful into both our own as well as our children’s daily lives.
Have a “Random Act of Kindness” day. Challenge children and teens to do something nice or helpful for someone, be it within the family, at school or even for a stranger.
Send someone a thank you note. Leave it on the refrigerator for mom, text your teen a thank you or put a sticky note in your child’s backpack. See who can be most creative.
Gratitude jar. Write down something good about each day and put in the jar. The notion behind this is to help us remember all the things we forget to say thank you for when we have a bad day, get upset for not having something or when we get frustrated.
Remember that it is never too early or too late to model thankful behavior or to instill teaching moments throughout an ordinary day. Parents are the most significant example to and great influence on their children, so make efforts to consistently demonstrate and discuss your grateful attitude.
Linda Mounce, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed professional counselor and independent sole proprietor practicing at Psychological and Counseling Associates of the Lowcountry, LLC in Bluffton.