Being grateful. It's something that we all want to make sure our children can fully comprehend and understand, but it's an elusive concept to be sure. The American way, after all, seems to be more, more, more and faster, faster, faster - with no logical thought left over for the rest of the world. The entire world seems to center on a "Me First" concept, and unfortunately, that leaves no room to focus on those less fortunate. Nothing about "Me First" leaves room for gratitude.
The beginning of gratitude is the realization that you are, indeed, more fortunate that those around you. Being grateful for what you have is much easier when you realize all that you DO have. It's also a much more adult concept than child friendly - and, yet, we often expect our children to be extremely grateful for all that we do for them. We spend our waking hours trying to give our children more than we had, an easier life and more material possessions. It's disappointing to us, and frustrating, when our children don't appreciate the sacrifices that we make and the struggles we endure to make it easier for them. Other than badgering them again and again to appreciate what they have and just be grateful, already - how can we help them to learn that "Attitude of Gratitude"?
- Volunteer - it's trite but true - kids who are exposed to those less fortunate have their eyes opened to the reality that not everyone has the same cushy lifestyle that they do. Take them to soup kitchens, homeless shelters and hospitals to see the reality that is always present.
- Visit the elderly and the sick - Nursing homes and hospitals often are sad places, and sometimes they could use some livening up. Can you make holiday decorations or arrange flowers? Call ahead, of course, to find out the restrictions and visiting hours.
- Donate - Your time, your money, your goods. No matter how little you have, there is someone who has less. Help your children help the less fortunate - do you have a coat drive in your area? My own children have been super blessed with extra coats and jackets thanks to hand me downs, and one year we cleaned out a dozen coats in very good condition. We washed them all and donated them to the coat drive.
What are some ways that you have helped your child to be grateful for the things that they have? Has your child ever amazed you with their giving spirit or willingness to help others?