Ways to Foster Gratitude and Conquer Selfishness in Kids
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” – Cicero
Most social interactions usually involve two or more parties where each of them is trying to maximize their own satisfaction while reaching a mutually beneficial result.
Small kids struggle with selfish impulses and often discard the mutual satisfaction in the process because they are still young, immature and don’t know any better. It is up to the parents to show them that being egocentric and often unfair will not bring them any rewards. On the contrary, it will make them grow into unhappy and lonely individuals. With that in mind, here are some simple ways to conquer selfishness and foster gratitude in your kids.
Teach by example
There is no better way to teach your kids altruism, good manners, selflessness and gratitude than by displaying these qualities yourself each day. That doesn’t even have to include grand gestures like working at a homeless shelter, but little actions, such as saying thank you frequently, being kind to them and other family members, being willing to help and share with people around you.
Show them a hero
Of course, they can’t learn only by watching you. Children have many role models other than their parents. Most frequently, those are characters from books, cartoons, comic books and movies. Superheroes are one of the most popular kids’ fascinations. Use that to your advantage by explaining to them how superheroes have a primary goal of helping people and nurturing the virtues you want to teach them.
Talk to them
Actions are the most powerful way to teach kids something, but nothing can replace an honest conversation. You can talk to them about the importance of being thankful for what they have and sharing, not only with their siblings and family, but also with the less fortunate. Regardless of your children’s age, you shouldn’t talk down at them, but be respectful and clear.
Help them help you
Having kids to help out around the house isn’t something parents do to minimize their own chores. It is beneficial to their relationship and it helps with character building. Tasks like collecting their toys, tidying up the room and helping with setting the table and doing the dishes, give children insight into what you do every day, and teach them to be more understanding and appreciative.
Have you ever found yourself with your kids in a store and they asked for a bunch of expensive toys, clothes or snacks? And how many of those times did they fail to understand when you said you didn’t have enough money? That’s why you should talk to them about the importance of money, and not only that – help them understand it better by earning their own money through small tasks like running bake sales or lemonade stands.
Giving the underprivileged
Some kids don’t have enough money to eat, a house to live in or funds to pursue the career of their choice. Collecting money for them will help your kids feel more grateful for what they have. Even a small donation for education foundation scholarships can change someone’s life and have a positive impact on your kids as well.
Renouncing something of theirs
Donation shouldn’t include only money. Dedicate one day a month to going through their old toys, books and clothes and motivate them to give some of them up to benefit the less fortunate children. By giving away something of theirs, they will learn to appreciate what they have.
Volunteering for a cause
Set one day a week aside to make a family activity of helping out at local soup kitchen, spending time with the elderly in a nursing home or playing with sick kids at the hospital. Children are smart and intuitive and when they see how some people have almost nothing, they will realize how privileged they are, and be grateful for their lives.
So, as Cicero put it so well, gratitude is the foundation for all the other virtues children need to develop in order to grow up into good and honest people, and you as a parent, should help them acquire these traits to help them live happier and more fulfilled lives.