We live in a world that is very externally focussed, where so many people are looking outwardly for how to make sense of their lives. We often ask ourselves (without even realizing it sometimes), "What's in it for me?", and we find ourselves cautious about committing to things or participating in things unless we can assess whether it will ultimately benefit us or not. Children are not that different from us when it comes to the "What's in it for me?" concept, and this can really affect their ability to demonstrate gratitude in their lives.

We pride ourselves in teaching our children to become independent, which is a very important skill. Children need to learn how to trust themselves, make good choices and solve-problems independently. Sometimes, however, this emphasis on independence can begin to "eat away" at the importance of gratitude. Gratitude is about looking outside of yourself, and I think that when children are taught to be overly-independent, they could easily miss out on the blessings and gifts that are all around them. Definitely some food for thought there!

As a parent, you can teach your child to expect success and happiness in their lives by expressing gratitude for what they already have: a loving family, great friends, clothes to wear, food to eat, etc. Gratitude is a choice that we make to recognize what is going well in our lives, and children can be taught how to choose gratitude each day as well. Gratitude involves slowing down--a novel concept to many children (at least the ones that I know!); slowing down enough to see what is going well and what we have to be grateful for in our lives. The next time you are in the midst of a frantic and frenzied situation with your child, try taking a minute with your child to identify things in that moment to be grateful for. You'll be surprised at how the situation seems to have magically "slowed down" with much more positive energy.

When children express gratitude, it improves their confidence level. Children learn to focus on the positive much more consistently, and they feel good recognizing that no matter what, there is LOTS to be grateful for each and every day. You can teach your child to transform a negative experience into a more positive one by asking your child, "What's good about this?". Better, yet, why not display that question somewhere in your home where everyone in your family can see it each day! Helping your child strengthen his/her "gratitude muscles" will enable them to focus more on the thoughts that they can control, which is a huge self-esteem boost! Remember, gratitude is a CHOICE we make that has powerful long-term effects when practiced daily. How can you begin a family practice of gratitude today?

Author's Bio: 

Milissa Harding is a Certified WISDOM Coach and expert in teaching parents how to support their children to create a "success mindset", so that they develop powerful self-esteem for life. She has designed a variety of programs to meet the unique needs of children, and she works with parents virtually (Skype, phone) to allow for flexibility and convenience. Find out more and schedule your FREE 30-minute Discovery Session at www.milissaharding.com.