Teaching Children Gratitude

In these difficult economic times, it might come as a surprise that such challenging times can teach important life lessons to children. The obvious lessons are don't overspend, credit cards are not the same as money and one has to be responsible and work hard to make a living. The other lesson, though, is to not just focus on what you don't have or can't get' but to focus on what you do have.

In December I was attending a gala holiday party at a beautiful country club. A hundred or so people were decked out in their most festive attire. I was standing with several other women and we were the few in the room unaccompanied by a husband or boyfriend. One woman said that she felt like a wall flower. I commented, 'Just take in the moment'it's beautiful and peaceful and we're going to have a wonderful dinner in a few minutes.' She replied, 'You know, you're right.' Her attitude changed in the moment and the rest of the evening I noticed she seemed to be having a grand time.

Think about ways to teach your children gratitude. This could include making sure that you focus on your haves rather than your have nots. It could be that you increase your positive comments about what you appreciate. Another idea is to have everyone write in a journal each day two (or five!) things that person is thankful for that day. Teach your children how to be creative in their gratitude with adjectives such as 'notice those gorgeous cardinals' the deep red of their feathers against the dark green of the cedars.' That's a stronger thought than just 'notice the pretty birds.'

And, as a family, you might want to work on this together by making a Master List of what your family is grateful for. You could put a notebook out to write in or a piece of butcher paper taped to the laundry room wall. Family members could continue adding over time with the goal of reaching at least 100 things your family appreciates.

Happy New Year! I am wishing for you and your family a most wonderful year!

P.S. Please see my other column, The Counselor's Corner.

Copyright 2009, Sharon Scott. No reproduction without written permission from author.