Earlier this month, I posted my 26 -Day Gratitude Challenge in hopes that as you tiptoe towards the season of giving, you would strengthen an attitude of gratitude. I have received so much positive feedback on this challenge that I thought it was important to push this a little further to reach our youth. In this post, I list 5 tips on fostering gratitude in your children as we move towards the season of “I want” – Teaching them that changing their perspective from “getting” to “giving” can foster life-altering effects.
The effects of giving vs getting
Studies suggest that we may get longer-lasting feelings of happiness by giving to others rather than receiving for ourselves. We all want happiness for our children, but where does that happiness begin. Is happiness getting what we wish for, or is happiness being happy with what we have?
Well, according to a Texas Tech University study, happiness stems from both wanting what you have and having what you want. The key here is that we must first foster feelings of gratitude (happy for what we have) in our children, for them to make smart choices in building a life they love (reward – getting the things they want).
Children Are The Worlds Best Copy Cats
“Do as I say, not as I do.” Life would be so simple if our children just did as we said. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Children are most influenced by what they see and hear at home. Being a role model in gratitude and changing the dialogue in your home can positively affect the whole family. If you make the shift, they will follow suit.
Post Reminders Of how to be grateful
Did you print your free Gratitude calendar? If not, you should go do it now. Post it somewhere that the whole family can see it, like the refrigerator door. The activities are quick and can be completed in just a few minutes. Maybe they could be a topic for discussion in the morning as you prepare lunch or at the end of the day at the family dinner table. Encourage gratitude in their heart, and you will see a shift like no other.
How Do I apply this to the season of giving?
Here is a list of 5 easy tips that can help you make simple changes to foster your children’s gratitude.
Limit Screen Time before the holidays
You can’t control advertisers from marketing to your kids – but you can control how much exposure your kids have to advertisements. I find I need to implement this control for myself as well. It’s so easy to be sucked in by the new latest and greatest – leading to a life of “I want.”
Handwritten thank-you notes
I’m sorry, but a text or email doesn’t cut it. Our youth lack connection and communication skills, so teaching them to spare a few minutes to make someone feel special is essential. Five minutes and a three-sentence Thank you note is all it takes.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.
Count your blessings
Now I know we all count our blessings, but try to make it a family affair as often as possible. Work it into your dinner conversation or your bedtime routine. Talk about the obvious, like being thankful for family, but don’t forget to talk about what we sometimes take for granted, like a few extra minutes reading a book together or how someone helped you during the day, etc. Make it real, not just words that you think you are “supposed” to say. Being intentional about gratitude daily will make it your default setting.
Be very careful of overindulging your kids
We are all guilty of giving our children more than we had. But sometimes it’s excessive. I’m guilty as charged. Over the past few years, we have adopted a goals and rewards system to foster gratitude. My husband and I feel in today’s over entitled world, it is crucial to teach our children that real life is not rewarded for participation. They work hard towards their goals, and then they are rewarded for their excellent effort. I have been pleasantly surprised by their expression of gratitude when they receive their reward. They should be thanking themselves for their hard work, but they are often thanking my husband and me. It’s a good feeling to see them adapting to a state of gratitude.
Focus on the real meaning of the holiday
Of course, gifts are a big part of the season of giving – but teach your kids about WHY you celebrate that holiday. For us, the holiday is Christmas, and when my eldest daughter was a toddler, we began teaching her that Christmas is baby Jesus’ birthday. It was an easy way for her to understand and relate to the holiday. When she was four years old, she asked if we could make a cake and sing happy birthday to baby Jesus, and it is a beautiful tradition that we still carry on today – 23 years later. It was transformative for her – her focus shifted from what she was getting from Santa to how we were decorating baby Jesus cake. I still see her sweet little face filled with excitement on the morning we planned to bake.
Focus your holiday preparations on giving to others and encourage your children to do the same. Their innately kind spirit will teach YOU the real meaning of the holidays. Here are a few of our favorite activities as we begin the season of giving.
Some of our favorite giving activities
Each year, as a family, we discuss how we can build on our giving efforts. Now that my children are older, they are hands-on in participating, and it makes me proud to see their hearts filled with so much love for others. Some of our favorite activities to give back are:
Adopt A Family
1.Adopt a family. You can reach out to your local places of worship, youth groups, or schools for families in need. Making the holiday special for a family in need and seeing how thankful they are will leave your heart so full – I promise!
Decorate For Someone In Need
2.Decorate for someone in need. My good friend lost her mom a few years back, right before Christmas, and she couldn’t bring herself to do anything to prepare for the quickly approaching holiday. This was so hard to watch because Christmas is her favorite time of year. So I went over to decorate her tree and wrapped all of her gifts. This simple gesture has strengthened our bond beyond measure.
Send Love And Hope To Children In Need
3.Operation Christmas Child. This is one of my favorites. We first participated when I was a girl scout leader for my youngest daughter. Talk about putting things in perspective and realizing all we have to be grateful for. Samaritan’s Purse donates to children in other countries who have never received a gift for the holidays. I love that this activity is inexpensive and can be done on a large scale through school, girl scouts/boy scouts, parish center, youth group, etc. You can deliver Good News and Great Joy to a child around the world simply by packing a shoebox full of toys, school supplies, and hygiene items. The recommended gifts are the very things that we take for granted and consider essential – like personal care items (soap, toothbrush, facecloth, pencils, note pads, etc.). Give a child hope while bringing the understanding of giving to your home is an experience that can not be underestimated.
Share Your Giving And Gratitude Idea With US
In what ways do you teach your kids about the importance of giving and gratitude? Please leave a comment so others can learn from you! Happy Holidays from Eden Inspired Homes. We are truly grateful for you!
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