Teaching children gratitude will impact their lives positively

What you need to know:

  • Gratitude opens the way for possibilities of deeper human friendships and trust.

Gratitude is one of the high-ranked values in human society. All traditions and religious beliefs converge in the acceptance that gratitude is invaluable and indispensable.

Gratitude is one of the social values that have a special commemoration day. Globally, World Gratitude Day is celebrated on 21 September every year.

While many other values are gradually being broadened in their meaning as compared to what they mean traditionally, sometimes corrupting the very essence of them, gratitude has remained the same.

It is a positive thing to say, ‘Thank you!’ and appreciate the good done or availed to us by others.

Gratitude is an important emotion and positive energy. As a human value, gratitude is paramount in our societal living as no one loves to be around ungrateful people.

Being unthankful can make every other good thing about us meaningless.

For example, one can have all the education in the world, all the honours and fame, or all the wealth, but when one lacks gratitude, he or she is quickly dismissed from many people’s lives.

While people may still accept them, they may not hold them as dear to their hearts as compared to those who are grateful.

Grateful children

Children need to be taught from an early age, not to over-demand and feel entitled, but how to appreciate and why it is necessary. There is so much to appreciate.

They should be trained to value other people’s generosity and make gratitude a deeper experience from the heart and not just words said out without meaning anything deep within them.

Nowadays the culture of entitlement is encroaching on our society.

It is materialistic propaganda that only makes the rich richer and adds no actual value.

It affects mostly children and young people, making them arrogant and restless seeking to please their elevated ego.

Adults may not be affected so much because, first, they have the foundations already, and secondly, they are choosing freely between the options they know.

Children can become ungrateful because of early childhood conditioning as well as traumatic experiences, for example being disrespected because of their needs.

Disrespect can be perceived even beyond the precincts of language.

In the former, conditioning can make children insensitive to the generosity of others; in the latter, ingratitude is purposely used as revenge and consolation.

Spending, trending

Today children learn to want so much, to be consumers with choices, who do not check the prices, unfamiliar with bargaining, and who buy what trends, even if it’s expensive and they do not need.

It is a selfish and self-seeking worldview being sold around, making things like ‘shopping’ a lifestyle and an indicator of high living standards or a decent life.

While adults know the value of money as they work hard for it, children adore the value of money paid for things.

Parents, not wanting to disappoint their children, work themselves sweat and blood to earn and provide what children want. However, oftentimes the things wanted are not really needed.

It is not a meaningful way to expose children to live by conforming to online life and trends.

It is one of the challenges of modern parenting. Parents tend to bring children into the complex picture of life by allowing them not only to access but also to participate in and be influenced by the life of social media.

It is thus undeniable that many children mirror the values and vices of their parents.

This way, they talk about and also develop an interest in similar things with their parents.

Media prompts ‘wanting’

While young people in our cultural setting are still a little bit conservative, in the West and in Asia where the use of social media is more common, young people are very active, expressive, and confident in expressing their opinions.

It is easy for our young people to be exposed to and influenced by Western and Asian young people they see on social media.

This exposure may make children desire to live like them, rich, posh and free even without seeing a full picture of their actual lives.

Parents need to teach their children openly that other young people they see on social media have no moral authority over them and are not in a position to teach them and influence their actions.

They are simply popular. Engaging children in actual life situations has a more powerful influence on their learning of values, as in this case gratitude.

It is good to provide for one’s children, but it should be with a limit that makes them learn to value and appreciate the fact that what they are given has value, they are given generously and therefore should respond with gratitude.

Gratitude comes together with them being contented and not to grumble. When everything is given upon request it normalizes the exchange, that is, ‘I demand and you provide immediately.’

It then becomes a world war whenever what is requested is not provided.

In addition, gratitude opens the way for possibilities of deeper human friendships and trust. It makes one less demanding while at the same time treating the available, however little, with the respect that is due.

The popular culture exposes young people to extravagance and love of wealth, brands, ideal beauty, ideal body, and fame, and pushes them to esteem themselves lower and feel demoralized by their actual situation.

To heal from this they crave to be surrounded by what is commonly accepted as a mark of wealth and success. Many tend to create for the public a false image of themselves.

The price of maintaining this image is high as one has to carry it about carefully.

At its worst, one even begins to feel uncomfortable with his or her background.

This can include one’s country, locality, language, home, and even family as they (family) do not conform to the ‘updated’ prototype of success in their minds.

When a child loses a sense of gratitude to this level it is difficult to bring them back.

When the real situations are accepted with gratitude they motivate one to work harder and change the narrative, rather than live false lives with unattainable aspirations.

Gratitude is foundational for success, accepting the good already done and building on it with higher goals.

It is also good to teach children that the price of success is nothing other than hard work, there is no shortcut around it.