“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”
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.
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
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 Familia, Upside Down Homeschooling, Still Playing School, Makeovers and Motherhood, P is for Preschooler, The Educators’ Spin On It, Toddler Approved!, The Connection We Share, Mama Pea Pod, Mum in the Madhouse, Mama Miss, Plain Vanilla Mom, Tips from a Typical Mom, Learning with Mouse,Preschool Powol Packets, Kids Yoga Stories, Dirt and Boogers, Local Fun for Kids, Positive Parenting Connection, Kitchen Counter Chronicles, The Good Long Road, Bits of Positivity, JDaniel 4′s Mom, The 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.