Children who recognize what they have and are grateful for it are more satisfied, optimistic and happier. They have better attitudes toward their family and school. Plus, knowing how to be grateful and show their thankfulness provides a greater understanding and sensitivity of the people around them and their relationships to those people. All of these positive outcomes of actively being grateful leads to a higher self-esteem.

These ‘perks’ or benefits will lead your child to having more enthusiasm, energy, joy. They will strive to do better at tasks given them because they will begin to see these tasks as gifts rather than burdens – or at least things that lead to gifts. And they will help you to grow as a person as well. A 2012 study published in the industry journal Personality and Individual Differences found that gratitude was one of the biggest predictors of life satisfaction, for kids and adults.

So, without further ado, here are some parenting tips on how you can encourage your child to learn to be grateful:

Be a good role model. Say thank you when someone does something for you, especially if your child does something for you. Let your children see you be thankful to your spouse when they do something nice. By saying, “Thanks! I really appreciate that.” you are not only letting your spouse know you’re grateful feelings, which are modeling good behavior for your kids.

Keep a gratefulness journal and encourage your family to do the same. Simply jotting down 3 to 5 things you are grateful for 3 to 5 times a week can keep yourself centered on the important things in your life – instead of the hustle and bustle of the world around you.

Help your kids enjoy and appreciate the less tangible gifts they are given every day. The people they have in their lives who keep them safe, the sun in the sky and the friendships they have. These are things to be very grateful for.

Write thank you notes. Have thank you cards available to write and help your child get them in the mail. For younger kids, have them draw a picture to say thank you. Grandparents, aunts and uncles love receiving thank you pictures and enjoy knowing that your little one is thinking of them.

Encourage your child to see the positive and put away the negative.
Then can do this by flipping a complaint into something to be grateful for. For instance, my daughters say they don’t like getting up early in the morning to go to school, I encourage them to recognize their ability to attend classes and learn is a gift. Then I ask them what they are grateful for in the mornings. (‘Pancakes’ is often the answer.)

Volunteer to help those less fortunate than yourselves.
Think not only about organized efforts, but also simple acts of kindness. Thanking a teacher as you leave class, holding the door open for a friend, carrying the groceries in the house and helping to put them away – all of these things show that you are thankful for the person who has helped you and is a part of your life.

Encourage your child to earn what they have, instead of simply giving it to them. When children understand the work that goes behind getting the things they have in life, they are more grateful for the things they have. So, while they may complain a bit about the time it will take them to earn what they want, know that the lesson in gratitude is well worth the wait. This helps keep a child from becoming spoiled.

How do you and your family encourage thankfulness? How do you help your child recognize things around them to be grateful for? Please share your tips, experiences and advice in the comments area.

Source: Jeffrey Froh, PsyD, an assistant professor of psychology at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.