Teaching your teens gratitude is not an easy task. Why? Well it takes a certain amount of being able to look beyond oneself and show consideration for others to show gratitude, and the teenage years are fairly selfish. However, as a parent it should be your goal to instill this trait in your teens, and the following are some great tips for how you can start the process:
Make it a daily thing.
As a parent, whether you have a teen or a toddler, you are sure to know that saying things once does not often result in action. It takes repetition and constant reminders to get your children to do what you want, whether it is picking up their room, or showing gratitude. So, when you are trying to teach your teens gratitude, you need to remember that it is not something you address with them once and leave at that, it is something you should take time each day to encourage. A few ways to do this is to simply ask them each day for a few examples of things they are grateful for. You can remind them to show gratitude when you see opportunities they are missing, such as if their mother washes their sports uniform, you can remind them to thank her. Make it a family effort, and make it a daily part of their life.
Be a great example.
When your child was younger you were probably very good at teaching them to do things by showing them, do not stop! As teenagers are far less observant than toddlers, you actually should be even more of an example. So, be sure you teach your teen to be grateful by being that way yourself. Be generous with your gratitude. Give thanks often, and for small things as well as big. Be sure to thank your teen, for all that they do right. As you show them appreciation and gratitude for simple things like putting their shoes away rather than leaving them out, they will start to pick up on that and as they see the things you are grateful for, they too will start feeling more gratitude. In addition to that, it is extremely difficult to instill a characteristic in someone that you are not practicing yourself, so make it a habit in your life, and it will be easier to make it one in your teens.
Make it habit.
Habit are things we do without thinking about it, and if you want to teach your teen gratitude, you have to find a way to make it habit. One excellent way to do it is to make gratitude a part of the daily routine. For example, when you drive your teen to school in the morning, make a habit out of asking them what they are grateful for that day. They may think it is cheesy, but soon it will be habit to them, and even if they ride with someone else, the thought of gratitude will pop into their head. You can make a habit of sharing with them the things you are grateful for each night before bed, or at the dinner table, etc. Soon you will recognize that highlighting being thankful is a wonderful teaching tool, and consistently including expressions of gratitude in daily activities will reinforce its power.
If you want your teen to learn gratitude they need to better recognize what they have that others may not. Have them volunteer at a soup kitchen, or watch a movie that took place in the depression, etc. Encourage that they give service often, because as this happens, selfishness lessens, and gratitude has a place in their life.
Make them contribute.
Help your child to learn how to consider others and function outside of themselves by making sure they are taking an active role in family life, meaning doing chores, participating in dinner preparation or clean up, and making contributions to the family. This helps them learn gratitude because they start to see efforts others make not just themselves. For example, if you clean the kitchen and someone comes in and instantly makes a mess, they will think nothing of it. However, if THEY clean the kitchen and someone comes in and instantly makes a mess, it will frustrate them. Soon they will recognize other’s hard work, show more consideration, and in turn more gratitude.
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