Children are the purest, most impressionable creatures on the Earth. They are observers, sponges to our every move and vocal range. They learn first by imitating what they see.
So, when teaching gratitude and leadership in children, parents and caregivers must display strong, compassionate guidance. Eventually, toddlers and preschoolers will enter the “I do it” phase, and while it can be a frustrating stage, it is also the perfect opportunity to solidify those appreciation and leadership skills.
There are many ways to develop gratitude and leadership in children; here are three activities to encourage their confidence and strength:
Let Them Be A Helper & Exhibit Sincere Thanks Young children are always eager to help Mommy and Daddy with even the most menial tasks. So, let them help sort the laundry, put away some groceries, or clear the dinner plates. They will learn to invest in team spirit and value the process. Be sure to emphasize your gratitude. Use eye-contact when you say, “Thank you,” maybe write them a heartfelt thank you note, and explain why their help is so important to you. Demonstrating polite gratefulness gives kids a model for their own gratitude and may also help them learn to better accept help through the “I do it” phase!
Ask Their Advice & Use It When Possible It may feel counter intuitive to ask a child for advice, but doing so is a substantial boost to their self-esteem. You don’t need to ask them for help on your taxes, but prompt them with simple family decision questions like: “What should we have for dinner, chicken or fish?” “It is a nice day outside. Should we go to the playground or the beach?” Their first answers may be impulsive, or they may be indecisive, but over time, you will see their confidence rising as they weigh and measure decisions with more conviction. Another sincere “Thank you” is certainly in order, and actually utilizing their advice will demonstrate your faith in them and teach them to value themselves and others.
Teach Them Volunteerism Getting your children involved in volunteering projects and efforts fosters strong community ties and leadership skills. Kids will begin to recognize their impact on their neighborhood and how their actions can incite large-scale gratitude. Encourage dialogue about what they are doing and the effect it has on the cause, organization, or community.
Inspiring children to see themselves as part of the “big picture” builds loyalty and poise in making decisions for something larger than themselves.