Teaching Kids to Count Their Blessings

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As the holidays roll around, you might be starting to notice a bad case of “the gimmies” in your kids. Meaning, they’re asking for every toy they see on TV commercials, they’re eager to shop for themselves rather than others, and they seem entitled to get whatever they ask for from Santa (or you!).

How can we foster generosity in our children, rather than selfishness, and instill the true meaning of Christmas? One way is to encourage them to count their blessings and be thankful for the wonderful things they already have in their life. Counting blessings forces us to focus on our personal happiness rather than stressing about situations we can’t control.

As I think about the people I’ve known in my past, the people who have regularly counted their blessings (both big and small) seem the most content. They take nothing for granted and appreciate the simple pleasures in life. They’re marked by joyful spirits and seek opportunities to pass that joy on to others. By counting their blessings, they’re able to take major challenges in stride because they remember what they’re truly thankful for.

Consider sharing this fact snippet with your kids: A recent study asked participants to think about three blessings at the end of the day and why they thought those blessings happened. The results were astounding. By practicing what the researchers called, “The Three Blessings Exercise,” every participant experienced more positive moods and less negative emotions and depression symptoms within one week. Wow!

Consider setting aside a segment of time every day to apply your own version of the Three Blessing Exercise - not only for your child’s sake, but for your own, as well. You will surely notice a change in the disposition, outlook, and ability to handle life’s disappointments of your whole family!

Dennis Trittin is President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead and co-author of Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. With world-class leadership experience, passionate advocacy for the next generation, and acclaimed resources and speaking engagements on the topics of leadership, life skills, and parenting, Dennis inspires and equips young people and those who guide them.  You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

Image Credit: St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church