Teaching Your Child Gratitude

“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”

–Gandhi

One of the yoga principles is Aparigraha, which could be translated as “greedlessness” or “gratitude.” As a mom, I have been thinking a lot about how to instill this value of gratitude in my daughter. Our family is about to move across the country, and it has been a special time to reflect on what we “need” and what we can give away. Going through such a huge transition has me thinking about how to teach our daughter about being grateful for our life, no matter what happens along the journey.

Gratitude quote

10 Ways of Teaching Your Toddler Gratitude

My husband and I are developing gratitude as a daily practice with our two-year-old daughter:

  • We talk about not wasting food. If she knocks over her milk, we gently say, “Milk is for drinking, not for putting on the floor.” Of course, we know that some food will be wasted as our toddler learns how to eat properly, but we continue to talk to her about not wasting food. She also knows that food scraps go in the compost bin.
  • We altered our talk to include “would like,” instead of “want.” As a teacher, I learned the power of language when working with young children. We hope to instill the practice of thinking carefully about things we desire versus things we need.
  • We talk about what we are grateful for in our daily conversations. We say things like: “Wow, what a beautiful sunny day. We are so grateful to live here.” Or “Wasn’t our friend kind to bring us some banana bread. What a lovely thing to do.” We hope that by pointing out the beauty in our lives, we’ll show our daughter how to be grateful for her experiences, not just what she owns.
  • We taught our daughter sign language at a young age, including the signs for “please” and “thank you.” Now that she is learning to talk, she loves saying thank you. She loves to send thank you videos to family members when we receive gifts. We don’t live near our families, so we talk about how grateful we are when we do see them.
  • We took the bare-minimum approach when we prepared for the birth of our daughter. We consciously bought only the basic necessities and borrowed most of the items we needed for the first couple of years. Now, our house is filled with mostly books, and not a lot of toys. Our daughter prefers to play outside, so we were lucky to not have to buy many toys. We hope to carry on this tradition of limited “things” in our daughter’s life.
  • When she outgrows clothes or toys, we talk to her about passing on the goods to another child. This way, we hope to model the behavior of giving unneeded goods to others, which is another yoga value.
  • We eat dinner together as a family. When I was growing up, before every meal, my dad would always say, “For what we are about to receive, may we be truly thankful.” We say the prayer together when we visit my parents. My daughter loves to join in on “passing the peace” by holding hands together before we eat. We always thank the cook for preparing the meal and talk about what we did that day.
  • We try to create a simple life for our daughter. She is a very lively spirit who gets easily frustrated when she can’t have or do something. We find that a walk in the forest, snuggle on the couch with books, or spontaneous yoga experience helps to bring her calm. We talk about being grateful for the simple things in life.
  • We also aim to incorporate acts of gratitude into our lives. We make thank you cards to send to friends and family. We make special drawings for my husband when he comes home from work, and we talk about how he is working hard for our family. We give out free books to our friends’ children as thank you gifts. We look for ways to show our gratitude as well as telling it.
  • When our daughter is a bit older, we will create a Gratitude Journal to write in together as a family. Also, I have heard of families having a white board on the fridge with a list of things that they are grateful for each day.

We hope that through modeling gratitude in our thoughts, words, and actions, we will raise our daughter to be a grateful global citizen.

What is one way that you teach gratitude to your child? I would love to hear your ideas.

Other resources that you might like:

Thanksgiving Yoga - giving thanks to nature through kids yoga poses

Acts of Kindness – ways that we can be kind through our thoughts, words, and actions

 

21 Days of Gratitude Challenge

Gratitude

This post is part of the 21 Days of Gratitude for the month of November with a group of other bloggers. With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we hope that our gratitude quotes and activities help to inspire families around the world to take time to share gratitude together as a family. 

These are the wonderful bloggers joining in the 21 Days of Gratitude: Inspired by FamiliaUpside Down HomeschoolingStill Playing SchoolMakeovers and MotherhoodP is for PreschoolerThe Educators’ Spin On ItToddler Approved!The Connection We ShareMama Pea PodMum in the MadhouseMama MissPlain Vanilla MomTips from a Typical MomLearning with Mouse,Preschool Powol PacketsKids Yoga StoriesDirt and BoogersLocal Fun for KidsPositive Parenting ConnectionKitchen Counter ChroniclesThe Good Long RoadBits of PositivityJDaniel 4′s MomThe Eyes of A Boy

 

To learn more about ways to incorporate the yoga principles into your every day life, sign up to receive updates through our weekly Kids Yoga Stories newsletter by adding your name and email address to the box at the top of the page.

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4 Responses to Teaching Your Child Gratitude

  1. Jo November 23, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    Thanks for the ideas on teaching toddlers gratitude. We love talking about what we are grateful for in our daily conversations too, and it’s so lovely hearing our 3 year old saying the same back to us now.

  2. Emily @tendersapling November 28, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

    What a lovely list of ideas and relevant for many ages! I especially liked $5 & 6 — practicing moderation (not have mountains of toys, learning to pass things along to others/the universe, etc.) with our children in their early years is so important and can be difficult in places where consumerism means the kids get way too many gifts at birthdays and holidays. Your daughter is lucky you to have you as parents! :)

  3. Kids Yoga Stories November 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm #

    Thank you, Jo and Emily for your lovely comments. This is a topic near to my heart, and I hope to raise my daughter to be grateful for her life too. Thanks for stopping by.
    Giselle
    Kids Yoga Stories

  4. Leanna @ Alldonemonkey December 1, 2013 at 7:35 am #

    What a beautiful post! Lovely ways to be conscious about teaching our children about gratitude. And love making the connection between gratitude and simplicity.

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