Teaching Gratitude

by Laurie Whitehead, Registered Mediator

As the holiday season is upon us, children of all ages are writing their lists of all the things they want to receive. While receiving is certainly a fun part of each child's holiday tradition, this is also a great time to teach your child the art of gratitude. Research shows that those who practice gratitude have better relationships with others, higher self-esteem and even more energy. The research also shows that gratitude and appreciation is not a natural part of development in children...it's a learned behavior. As a parent, you can work at helping your child learn gratitude during the holiday season and beyond.

1.  Be a role model for gratitude. Let your children hear you use please and thank you for everything. Although it may appear that they aren't listening to your kind behavior, they are processing it all and will model your behavior.

2. Have your child consider donating one of their gifts to a less fortunate child. Discuss with them what it might be like to receive no presents and allow them to be a part of determining who receives the gift.

3. Find community service work you can to together. Giving back gives a child a sense of purpose and allows them to appreciate more of  what they have.

4. Develop some sort of gratitude routine at home. Whether it be at bedtime, driving home from school or dinner, discuss what everyone is grateful for on a regular basis. Doing this will help it become more natural in their own development.

5. After the holiday (or anytime throughout the year) sit down with your child and write thank you notes. These notes should not be just for presents, but anything they are grateful for in their life!

Remember that gratitude is something that needs to be practiced often and not just during the holidays. The more you model this behavior, the more benefits you will see from your children.

Happy Holidays.

*Laurie Whitehead is a registered mediator with the State of Georgia and does mediation consulting and cases with the Justice Center of Atlanta. Contact her for more information:(678) 462-9954, ljwhitehead@mindspring.com.

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