Dear all,

I had an interesting session today that focused on gratitude. A parent was voicing displeasure about their child not showing gratitude for what they have and/or the sacrifices that these parents make for their children. So, I began to probe about the parent’s feelings of gratitude and expressions of gratitude in front of their children. What I found was very telling- not sure how this parent can expect gratitude from their child when they do not communicate or demonstrate the feeling.

Gratitude, like a precious garden that needs tending, has the power to enrich our lives and feed us with positivity.

Let’s look at 4 parts to this developing skill.

1. The Now-Centric Mindset:

Many children, teens, and adults live in the present moment. This mindset makes it challenging to grasp abstract concepts like gratitude. Encouraging them to appreciate the present while planting seeds of gratitude can be a delicate balance, so be patient and demonstrate your gratitude in front of them.

2. Developing Empathy:

Empathy, a cornerstone of gratitude, takes time to bloom. Kids of all ages are learning to understand others’ perspectives and feelings (some adults too, lol). Teaching them to step into someone else’s shoes can be a gradual and impactful process. Care for those seedlings within yourself and your children.

3. The Language of Gratitude:

Expressing gratitude requires a nuanced understanding of language and emotions. Children may find it challenging to articulate their feelings. Adolescents might be navigating a sea of complex emotions. Adults may be in survival mode or living on auto-pilot. I hope that creating an environment for open communication, with age-appropriate language, can help bridge this gap: Water with words.

4. Instant Gratification Culture:

We live in a world of instant everything! What is patience? Gratitude often involves delayed gratification, waiting for the seeds of kindness to grow into moments of appreciation. Encourage small acts of patience and highlight the joy of anticipation with your family. Tend to your garden and share the experience with your children.

OK, back to my session- I guided the parent to see and to keep in mind that the journey to experiencing gratitude for all ages is a process. As parents, caregivers, and mentors, our role is to DEMONSTRATE our gratitude and gently guide our kids toward a life that includes gratitude.

xo- Dr. Marnee