Friday, November 16, 2012

Gratitude is Caught

This semester, I'm teaching Parenting and Family Decisions at a university. The class is great; it meets early in the morning (I'm a morning person), the students take copious notes and contribute to the discussion (makes teaching easier), and we've taken field trips and enjoyed guest speakers (adds variety).
Well, we're nearing semester's end and moving into the busy holiday season. Thanksgiving is around
the corner; my students are excited for the break. One thing I impress on them is the art of gratitude. Did you know appreciation is taught by parents and caught by children?
Kids are born self-seekers; they're naturally egocentric. And while it may be more blessed to give than receive, getting is fun (I like gifts). Plus, our society encourages acquisition of wealth, status, and possessions. So it’s understandable why kids aren’t naturally thankful and must develop a spirit of gratitude.
Parents – the first and most influential teachers – can slow their child’s greed avalanche by,
  • Limiting TV viewing; especially during the holidays when advertisers target children as a way to get into parents’ pockets.
  • Decreasing toy stores trips. Make shopping an “adult” activity.
  • Focusing on the intangible wealth. Good friends, laughter, safety, and freedom are indeed precious gifts.
  • Reading children’s books about gratitude, like I’m Thankful Each Day by P.K. Hallinan.
  • Writing appreciation notes to teachers for dedication and to our military personnel for their selfless service.
  • Thanking God before meals.
These terrific practices are good for both adults and children. As William Bennett wrote in The Moral Compass, “Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that thankfulness is indeed a virtue.
Happy Thanksgiving!

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