Thanks for joining us for part two in a three part blog series on raising service oriented children. In part one we talked about Inspiring Kids To Pay It Forward. Today we are going to dig a little deeper to examine how one fundamental character quality fosters the desire to live a life of service – Gratitude.
Children who learn gratitude become more sensitive to the feelings of others. As gratitude becomes a way of life, empathy takes root and weeds out selfishness as grateful kids look outside themselves to the wide world beyond. On the flip side, kids who aren’t taught gratitude tend to feel entitled and as a result, perpetually disappointed. This disappointment can lead to frustration and discouragement for kids and the adults in their lives.
Indeed, instilling gratitude now will benefit children later in life. A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism, along with lower levels of depression and stress. That is a game changer! Amen?
This is exactly why gratitude is at the top of the list of character qualities I want my kids to learn; I believe living life with gratitude will shape who my kids become as adults and what they choose to offer others. This is exactly why it can be proportionally disappointing when a child of mine chooses an opposite response instead. Yet, my goal as a parent is to not take personally when my kids stray from what I teach them to go their own way instead. For when I do, I can find myself growing discouraged or even resentful that I just can’t seem to get through to them. I need to trust that though I may plant the seed, it is the Lord who makes it grow!
What I can do is intentionally and proactively arm myself with resources that will help me in this goal to raise grateful kids in an entitled world. These are a few of the book, online, and visual aid tools I appreciate and recommend for the caregivers ‘toolbox’ in raising grateful, service-oriented kids:
Resources For Caregivers
Dismayed at the attitude of entitlement that had crept into her home, Kay Wyma got some attitude of her own. Cleaning House is her account of a year-long campaign to introduce her five kids to basic life skills and the ways meaningful work can increase earned self-confidence and concern for others. With irresistible humor and refreshing insights, Kay candidly details the ups and downs of equipping her kids for such tasks as making beds, refinishing a deck chair, and working together. The changes that take place in her household will inspire you to launch your own campaign to dislodge your kids from the center of their universe.
With simple language, interesting anecdotes, and biblical applications, Susie Larson helps readers understand that although teaching perspective and gratitude to our children is critical, it is not difficult.
How to raise kids whose focus is not always on themselves. Some topics include: Becoming Others Focused, Service, Generosity, Forgiveness, and much more.
Resources To Share With Kids
This beautifully illustrated book introduces the concept of humility to children. Readers will be reminded that everything we have, including our gifts and talents, is from God. Just as the moon learns to boast only of the sun, children-and their parents-learn that to boast of anything other than the Son is utter foolishness.
Young people need guidance from caring adults to build strong, positive character traits—but they can also build their own. This book by the best-selling author of The Kid’s Guide to Social Actioninvites children and teens to explore and practice honesty, kindness, empathy, integrity, tolerance, patience, respect, and more.
Words with special meaning for teens. Includes 365 reflections for those who need support, affirmation, and assurance. Growing up can be tough, but there’s still a lot to be grateful for! A year’s worth of great ways to start or end the day. Ages 13 & up.
Gratitude works like a muscle – the more we make use of it, the stronger it grows. So let’s take time to model the appreciation of our blessings for the kids in our lives today! Even as we may wait to see our kids pick up on the example, we will be giving ourselves the opportunity to grow gratitude in our own lives. It’s often only a matter of time until kids grow more grateful and happy when surrounded by grateful, happy caregivers! On that note, I am off to be the change I wish to see in the world, (starting in my own home) 🙂
How do you teach the kids in your life to be grateful? Please share what works for you and be sure to check back soon for the last post in this series, on raising the next generation of volunteers.