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Five tips to instill an attitude of gratitude in your kids

Teaching our kids to say "thank you" is important, but truly instilling a sense of gratitude in them is another matter entirely. Gratitude goes beyond good manners—it's a mindset and a lifestyle. Studies have shown that kids who practice grateful thinking have more positive attitudes toward school and family. 

Gratitude also grants perspective. When kids recognize that the things they own and the opportunities they have come from someone other than themselves, they may be more inclined to treat others with genuine respect. They may also begin to appreciate what they have rather than focusing on what they wish they had.

I believe gratitude starts at home. Here are five things I do—and you can too—to grow an attitude of gratitude at home:

  1. Name your blessings. 
    Have a moment of thanks each day when everyone shares something they're thankful for. Whether the list includes a favorite toy, a particularly good piano lesson or a birthday card from a friend, this daily tradition can help develop a positive frame of mind.

  2. Be a grateful parent.
    What an invaluable exercise it is to tell our kids why we're grateful to have them. When we tell them what makes them special to us, their self-esteem is boosted for the right reasons (not because they have the latest smartphone or because they're dressed fashionably). Plus, our example shows them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.

  3. Resist the urge to shower them with too much "stuff."
    Buying kids whatever they want, whenever they want, dilutes the gratitude impulse and it can mean they don't learn to value or respect their possessions. They end up with so much stuff, they don't appreciate each toy or game or device, as they keep setting their sights on what's shinier and newer.

  4. Have them pitch in when they want something.
    If your kids get an allowance or earn money at a job, have them buy some of the things they want. When kids take the time to save up, they have ownership in the purchase and gain an understanding of the value of a dollar by working toward what they want.

  5. Encourage them to give back.
    It really does feel great to help someone else out. When kids give their time and energy to help others, they're less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted.

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