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Teaching your child to live with a heart of gratitude

Nimali Buthpitiya


We all agree with the idea that, parents hold the greatest responsibility in nurturing a sense of gratitude and respect within a child. Similarly with other character traits, training these two important qualities also necessitate the active involvement of parents from the earliest stage of life in their children. Sense of gratitude and respect are among those most appreciated qualities of one’s character which produces positive attitudes and everlasting joy!

Let’s look at the ways we can instill these two precious qualities in your little ones…

From the earliest age, encourage your child to be gentle and considerate with objects they handle. Certain children may appear more active and therefore tend to break or throw things that they use, in such cases; parents can sit down with them and try to model the appropriate way to handle objects with care. Most importantly, do not forget to praise them when they begin to show some progress.

When children enter into a supermarket or a shopping mall, they might want to have all what they see on the shelves. This is because they are not aware of financial limitations and the need for prioritizing expenses. It is your responsibility to help your child develop this understanding. Therefore, I suggest, even if you can afford to buy all what they desire, to ask them to choose only one thing by making a sacrifice. It will make them learn the concept or prioritizing matters in life and also will begin to appreciate and treasure what they own.

Further, in order to make them feel concerned about their possessions, as parents, you can allow opportunity for them to contribute into minor purchases you do for them with their pocket money. Asking them to chip in this way does not bring you any savings financially, but it will help them realize that an investment is involved with any purchase.

As a family, having the rule of thanking each other is another way you can teach your child to express gratitude towards others. Thanking is a word that can bring happiness to anyone. Thanking you for preparing meals, thanking friends for the birthday gifts, thanking for little appreciations they receive or thanking when someone helps them teach children that they need to be grateful for people and things they are blessed with.

Concerning the habit of thanking, one important thing which children should realize is that it has no attachment with the value of what you are going to be thankful about. Just because a birthday gift from a person is not what was expected or it had no use for your child, they should be trained to respond politely to the person saying ‘thank you’. What they need to realize is that the sense of gratitude does not depend on the value of what they receive, but on the value of the act and the intention behind it. When children are practiced and trained to think and act this way, they will begin to see the beauty of life even with little things they may have.

Always role model these values in your day today life, coach them to maintain eye contact, smile and politely say a personal ‘thank you’ for all greater and smaller things that they should be thankful for in their daily life.

Finally, it is essential to mention that this task is somewhat challenging to all parents. Specially when you have friends and families, with children who appreciate and possess expensive and latest gadgets, they pose pressure both on you and your child. Then it is good to remind yourself that what is most important for you as a family is not pleasing others, but maintaining those important values within your family to bring up your children in the appropriate manner. Therefore, at times parents may have to be fairly firm with loved ones and attempt to make them also supportive towards what you are trying to achieve as a family.

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