Sunday, December 27, 2009


You won't believe this. I was reading my favorite magazine Montessori Life (I know, I know...obsessed) and there was an article all about the concept of teaching gratitude to children. They did mention that unbridled materialism in adults causes depression, hypercompetitiveness, and anxiety, to name a few. Researchers are now finding the same ills in children. Companies are now spending $17 billion dollars in programming and advertising to influence the minds of young children. Check out the book Buy, Buy, Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds for more information.

One simple way to get started is to simply change your language to sound more grateful. For example:

Child: Mommy! Look at the new shoes Grandma bought me!
Mom (typical answer): Wow, aren't they lovely.

Our goal is to take the focus off of the material object and on to the kind act of giving. An opportunity to teach gratitude might look like this...

Child: Mommy! Look at the new shoes Grandma bought me!
Mom: That was very generous of her. How do you think we could thank her?
Child: I don't know, I guess I could say 'thank you'.
Mom: Sure, we could do that. We could also write her a thank you note or draw a picture to say we're thankful!

Another important skill is differentiating wants and needs. Cut out pictures of items from a magazine and glue them on index cards. First, discuss with your child the difference between the two, then help your child sort the pile of cards. Use a control of error, so the child can self-check, such as a red circle on the back of all of the want cards and a green sticker on the back of the needs. Some suggestions might be photos of: a TV, a banana, jewelry, medical care (a photo of a doctor or hospital), a toy, a home...

Feel free to comment if you have any ideas to share about teaching children how to be more grateful.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity...It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~Melody Beattie

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