{     Offering the Best Childhood Preparation for Social and Academic Success.     }

Posts Tagged ‘Giving back’

Four Ways to Encourage Gratitude

072O2495Teaching children how to be grateful is important. Dr. Kyle Pruett, clinical professor of child psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine and member of The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, offers four tips on how to encourage gratitude.

  1. Regularly express your own thankfulness verbally. Saying things such as “We are very lucky to have grandma nearby” or “I’m thankful to have a son like you in my life” or “Your dad made that so easy for all of us” can help demonstrate the appreciation you have for the people around you.
  2. Express gratitude behaviorally. Take a casserole to a neighbor who has been kind or needs some extra help for whatever reason—even better if the children help you make it. When the hand-me-down toys end their cycle, make a thrift store run with the children in tow.
  3. Make generosity part of your family’s routine. When seasons change, collect clothes from everyone’s closet to donate or take canned goods to the local soup kitchen.
  4. Take the children along on community fundraising activities, runs, walks, etc. Explain to them why this matters to you. Make sure your children meet the organizers and understand the purpose; if it’s personal, it’s remembered.

Raising a Generous Child

The ability to give unselfishly to others is not a quality people are born with. Experiences we have and the values we are taught form the basis for the choices we tend to make in our lives regarding generosity. Similar to other behavioral and physical growth stages, researchers have found that children’s moral behaviors also evolve in developmental phases.

Usually young children up to about five years of age are a bit self-absorbed and fairly unaware of other’s feelings. They tend to believe that they should have whatever it is that they want. At around four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half years of age, children like to please adults and are more willing to be coached.

As a child’s moral reasoning develops, parents can model generous behaviors and discuss the importance of generosity. Children will more easily grasp a value such as generosity if they have early and frequent real-life exposure to it. Setting examples and reinforcing good manners at this stage will go a long way.

Don’t despair if your little one seems quite selfish. It’s almost as nature intends for us to learn to love ourselves before we can love others. Remember that a child’s behavior and train of thought will go through various transitions and eventually even a self-centered preschooler can become a warm and generous individual.

By giving your children many opportunities to experience the wonderful feeling of giving to others, they will likely grow up to be generous adults.