How to Teach your Child to Appreciate Things (not just take them for granted)

The best way to instill a life-long appreciation of the things you have is by showing your child gratitude during special moments – and teaching them to do the same. According to a recent article from The Spirit Science , “Gratitude is really about mindfulness, awareness, focus, and connection.” In today’s society, it’s easy for kids to take almost everything for granted. They live in a world where they can have just about anything they want — if their parents are willing and able to provide it. To counter this, you need to teach your kids, and yourself, how to be grateful for the things you do have in life — and to enjoy every moment instead of taking them for granted . The following activities can help your child practice gratitude on a daily basis. Gratitude Hall of Fame Every night, before bed, put up a gratitude hall of fame in your living room or another common area. Write down all the things you appreciate most about your family members on brightly colored paper and hang them up on the wall. Every family member then gets to choose one item to take off the wall and explain why they appreciate it so much. Gratitude Journal Make gratitude a daily habit by keeping a gratitude journal for your kids. On days when you can’t think of anything, look at old photos together or read some of their favorite books. This activity will help them appreciate the little things every day instead of taking them for granted. Thank You Notes Practice gratitude by writing thank you notes to family members and friends. Give your child a stack of cards, some markers, and simple instructions on how to write their first thank you note. The activity can be as simple or as intricate as you want it to be. The message is what’s truly important. Acknowledge the Small Victories Make gratitude a part of your everyday routine by regularly acknowledging your child’s small victories. If they get dressed by themselves for the first time, thank them for their efforts and offer to take pictures so you can remember this moment forever . Thank them when they eat all their vegetables without complaining. Give them effusive praise every time they solve a difficult puzzle or build something creative with their blocks. The more you acknowledge these accomplishments, the more likely your child will feel encouraged to continue performing at their best. Don’t Forget Yourself! It’s easy to get so wrapped up in making sure your kids are happy and feel loved that you forget about yourself in the process. However, according to a recent study , self-compassion is a key component of gratitude and happiness . It can be difficult for parents to show compassion to themselves while trying to raise happy, healthy children. But your child will learn how important it is to take care of others only if they see their parents treat themselves with the same love and care that they show everyone else . When you take time for yourself, even if it’s only a few minutes, your child will see how important self-care is. Go sit outside in nature, play outdoors, read a book on your e-reader device , or simply breathe deeply. Let them see you take care of yourself and they’ll be more likely to follow suit in their own lives. Gratitude is about connection, awareness, mindfulness, and focus. As your child grows up, you can remind them of this lesson whenever life gets stressful or when they’re tempted to complain about the problems in their lives. Teaching gratitude will lead to a well-adjusted, outgoing child who appreciates the many things they have in life. And you’ll be raising them to become emotionally and mentally healthy adults — which is something everyone can appreciate .