“That’s Mine!” “I had it first!” “I want that NOW!” “NOOOOOO!” I’m a mom of 2 toddlers, and some days I wonder if they know any other words. It can seem impossible to teach a self-centered toddler about giving and gratitude, but this is actually the perfect time to start teaching toddlers gratitude, along with the whole family.
Mindfully practicing gratitude can have many health, social and emotional benefits. I’m sure there are a million articles on what these benefits are, and I don’t have time to do that research but in my personal experience, people who practice gratitude are happier and happy kids = happy (but exhausted) mom.
Here are things I’m doing to develop an attitude of gratitude in my family.
Start a Family Sharing Time
We have our sharing time during dinner – it doesn’t happen every night, but I try to make it a point to sit down most nights as a family, even if its just me and the kids. We all start by saying something we are thankful for that happened in our day. My 4 year old is starting to get the idea of sharing something that really happened in his day. The 2 year old still brings up that time she dropped her water bottle in the frog pond at the aquarium and the janitor fished it out (this was about 6 months ago).
The best part about this is that it evolves into a nice family conversation. Although, I’m pretty sure we will be talking about the frog pond incident for the next 2 years.
Cook or Bake for Someone
My 2 year old loves to cook. I have Wednesdays off every week, so we have “Julia’s cooking day!” Julia gets to plan and make at least one meal -with as much help from mommy as she will allow. We started expanding our cooking day by baking cookies to bring to their Nona. She was excited to get the cookies and even more excited to open the bag and give one to each kid. We’ve also made pudding to bring to Bible Class in the evening. My kids were so excited to share what they made and the whole class was quiet for a full 5 minutes while they ate.
Give Back to the Community
Depending on the age of your kids, there are lots of local charities and volunteer opportunities. This year we are making cards for seniors. We plan to deliver them to a local nursing home and our local meals on wheels site. You could also make thank you cards for the volunteers who deliver meals through the meals on wheels program.
I’ve been told many times to cherish this phase of parenting. Bigger kids have Bigger problems, but it can still be hard to maintain that attitude of gratitude through a 2 year old’s tantrum. It doesn’t have to be anything big! Simple gestures and being a role model of giving and gratitude will lay the foundation for raising kids with an attitude of gratitude.