15036584_10105566562176621_1244236462273468944_nThe root of joy is gratefulness.” – David Steindl-Rast

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We all know that teaching our kids to say “please” and “thank you” are important parts of helping them to be successful adults.

But true gratitude extends beyond simply saying these words at the appropriate time.

Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation. It can even extend to a feeling of empathy to those less fortunate or a feeling of empathy for someone going out of his or her way for someone.

People who have a strong sense of gratitude have healthier relationships and tend to be less stressed.

Teaching kids to be truly grateful at an early age, not just to say “thank you”, can have a huge impact on their happiness and stress levels as they grow into adults.

Raising grateful kids can help strengthen the bond they have with your family.

So how do you help you child develop an attitude of gratitude?

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Get Their Hands Dirty – Do you appreciate an air conditioner more after working outside in the sun? Absolutely. Get kids involved in different processes to help them develop a sense of appreciation for things they might otherwise take for granted. Have your child help prepare a meal or help put together a piece of furniture for the family. This gives them a better understanding of the work involved to make things happen. You might even get your picky eater to try something new if she helped make it ready for the dinner table.

The Struggle is Real – Is your child having trouble with their kitchen task? It’s okay. It can be hard to watch your child struggle to do something that you could do in minutes. However, letting them overcome that challenge not only builds a bit of confidence, it builds empathy for someone else doing the same task.

Focus on Others -When you need to buy a gift, get your child as involved as possible in coming up with ideas and picking out the present. Talk about how you think that person will feel when they receive the gift and tell your child you appreciate all of the help in choosing it.

Talk The Talk – If you demonstrate real gratitude, your kids are more likely to demonstrate it. Say things like, “That was so nice of Ms. Smith to take time out of her busy day to help us set up our booth. I’m very thankful that she was here to help us. What do you think?” Make it a point of conversation and ask your kids what they appreciate. Their answers might surprise you!

Take Down the Shield – It’s normal to want to shelter your child from all the sad things in the world, but exposing them to people less fortunate can help your child gain a more grateful perspective. Take them to volunteer at a soup kitchen or to give toys at a children’s hospital. You never know, your child might be inspired to perform some tremendously compassionate acts.

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