Explain What Real Gratitude Is to Your Kids and Teens to Help Them Understand What It Means to Be Grateful

Explain What Real Gratitude Is to Your Kids and Teens to Help Them Understand What It Means to Be Grateful

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Teaching kids to be grateful may at first seem like a ‘Leave it to Beaver‘ daydream of the 50’s and 60’s. But an article in the Wall Street Journal has pointed out what successful parents have always understood about gratitude, even when that understanding wasn’t always conscience. Acts of gratitude are as beneficial to the one expressing gratefulness as it is to the one accepting it. And this is true for adults as well as kids and teenagers.

Part of the problem with the lack of gratitude in this generation of kids and teens is their inability to understand what it is. This may come from the idea that we are more of an entitled society then anything to do with any one child. Understanding ‘gratitude’ is where parents can help their kids and teens, as learning the definition of gratitude really starts at home. What do you think of when you think of gratitude? Do you think of thank-you notes or your kids thanking their teachers/grandparents/etc. for their help? Gratitude is actually much more than a simple thank you. It is more than any act of gratefulness you express after someone does something nice for you.

So, let’s take apart what ‘gratitude’ is to help understand it more:

    In order to have true gratitude, you need to be self aware. You need to realize that the universe is made up of a million planets and stars and they do not all revolve around you. Those who think that deserve everything they get are not able to express gratitude. You can teach this type of person to say thank you, but they rarely mean it. Children who live like this are often referred to by others as entitled or spoiled.

    True gratitude also cannot be expressed by those who are unaware of other’s positive effects on their lives. It is only a small step for a child who is self-aware to realize that they get good things from others. Parents should help their children by making them aware of these people and how they affect their lives positively. For instance, when you child comes home with a good grade on their math paper, instead of just praising your child, also praise their teacher for helping your child learn the math that got them the good grade. Healthy societies are built this way as they have members who are positively interdependent on each other.

    Finally, your child needs to be aware of the act which instills the gratitude. Using the example above about the math teacher, your child may at first feel that their teacher doesn’t deserve gratitude for teaching him his math work because the teacher is ‘just doing their job’. This is an unfortunate attitude would lead your child down the road of expecting things in life, instead of learning how to earn them and be grateful for them. Your child’s teacher did their job well, hence the good math grade. Therefore, the child learned the math well. For this act, your child should be grateful.

So, in order to have gratitude, your child needs to be self-aware, aware of others who influence them and know the positive act that was done for them. When these three things combine, your child will feel real gratitude. It’s a good feeling, on meant to be shared. It helps make you feel good about your actions and it boosts your self-esteem. When you express your gratitude, it does the same things for the one you are expressing it to.

Real gratitude is an all over win-win for your kids – and yourself. Take the time to teach it’s many lessons to your children and you will be helping them succeed.

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