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Teaching Our Children To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude

Author : Maricruz Ferrari LCSW

I thank the universe for all that is good and not so good because, in our effort to find the balance between both, the true beauty of life unfolds. As long as we remain receptive and procure our overall growth, the universe will continue to have our backs. For this reason and everything else, I express the utmost gratitude now and always.

Gratitude is the attitude of being thankful or showing appreciation for the things we obtain or situations we experience in life. We often limit the definition of gratitude to saying “thank you.” Genuine gratitude transcends the physical experience and can nurture our heart. It helps us appreciate gifts that feed our soul, like the kindness of strangers, the loving words of our children, being able to serve others, etc. Gratitude in its essence can help us live in a blissful state of mind. Unfortunately, in the world of consumption we live, we often seem to be more preoccupied with having more than expressing gratitude for the greatness we already have.

Our children are growing in an environment that bombards them with vain social expectations. Social media and peer pressure often make our children believe they are not enough and push them to continuously search for the holy grail of fabricated perfection to feel complete. Many parents raise their children with an attitude of “more is better” based on the consumption patterns our society has imposed on us. Many believe that by giving more to their children, they are enhancing their human experience. When I say more, I mean more of everything, more toys, more activities, more experiences, more busyness, and more stimulation. We often fail to allow our children the time to enjoy the simple things in life. We forget how important and nurturing it is for our children to experience gratitude and bask in the happiness that comes with it. We forget to encourage our children to appreciate all the beauty that surrounds them and to live in the now. Without noticing, we raise entitled children and then, we end up asking ourselves how we got there.

While exposing our children to more experiences is inevitable in this rapidly changing society, teaching our children to pace themselves and experience the true meaning of appreciation is not. Rather than giving more and more to our children, we should teach them to slow down and embrace the real sense of gratitude. Gratitude that is experienced not only intellectually, but also emotionally and spiritually. The heart that appreciates the beauty in life is always focused on emotional and spiritual growth, not attached to material things. The soul that is enamored by the greatness the universe offers will never feel empty or incomplete. The heart that is overflowing with gratitude has no room for negative feelings or thoughts.

As parents, my husband and I decided that expressing gratitude needed to be a daily practice in our children’s lives. After experiencing multiple situations in which our children had total disregard for the efforts we or others made for them, we realized that teaching them to say “thank you” was not enough. We quickly understood that giving them things without helping them experience genuine gratitude was poor parenting on our part. We realized that teaching them an appreciation for life is quintessential for them to feel they are enough and therefore, nothing is missing for them to be happy today and now. We realized that when we experience gratitude as a family, we connect on a deeper level and there is no room for trivial things.

Every night before they go to bed, we encourage them to share a couple of things or situations they experienced during the day that motivated gratitude. This didn’t come so natural to them. We had to guide them and teach them how to identify things/experiences that should be more appreciated. In the beginning, our children would express gratitude for things such as a toy, their food, their warm bed, their friends. Nowadays, they seem to be experiencing gratitude on a deeper level. They express gratitude for the kind words their teachers uttered, for being able to help friends in need, for having the courage to complete an activity that made them nervous, for having the brain power to complete their homework on their own and for being part of a family that loves them deeply and accepts them for who they are.

In our home, our children have been a clear example of how a real sense of gratitude can change the way you see life. They have shown me that cultivating an attitude of gratitude makes a difference in how you experience every situation in your daily life. I encourage you to incorporate this practice in your family’s daily routine. You will connect with your children on a deeper level. You might find yourself slowing down the fast pace of life to enjoy simpler things that are often taken for granted. As you and your child’s hearts fill more with gratitude, you’ll experience there is less room for the negative distractions that usually takes over our lives. Give it a try; gratitude won’t disappoint.

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Maricruz Ferrari is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has worked in healthcare for multiple years. Throughout her career, she has provided supportive services to people struggling with numerous psychosocial stressors, including parenting issues. Although nowadays there is more information available on effective parenting techniques, many parents are still hesitant to share their honest feelings, especially the negative ones. Maricruz’s purpose is to help parents in need to enhance their relationship with their children by showing them practical ways to cope with their parenting struggles.

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Tags:   parenting, parenting skills, conscious parenting, terrible twos, toddlers, parent-child relationship, child development

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Submitted : 2019-05-21    Word Count : 858    Times Viewed: 1176