Adolescence is certainly a crazy time for both parents and teenagers. However, as the adults, parents must think of ways to help their teens as they go through this important journey in their lives. It takes a lot of patience, determination, creativity, reflection…and yes, stress-management. As parents, we can’t demand that our teenagers be grateful of us. However, an ungrateful attitude and a sense of entitlement are unacceptable as well.
The other day, we talked about the first 5 tips. Here are the final 5 tips to help teens show more gratitude:
6. Introduce the Gratitude List. Get your family in the habit of using a gratitude list. This can be done in 2 ways. One was it to go around the table each night and have each person express why they’re grateful that day. This allows others to hear “the good news” and also put children and teens in a positive frame of mind. You can also choose to do this before bed—just allow it to become a habit. If it’s simply something your family does, it will become quite natural. You can also introduce the act of gratitude journaling. Encourage your teen to write down all the things he’s thankful for and the things that can help him overcome his challenges. You can make this a family affair by encouraging everyone to journal with gratitude. Studies show that people who keep gratitude journals feel better about their lives as a whole, were more optimistic, and less stressed.
7. Give them responsibilities. When teens take on more and more responsibilities, they begin to learn what it takes to run a successful household, how fortunate they are to have the help they have, and how it feels to give back to the people they love. Since your teen is preparing for adulthood, it’s very important that s/he is given chores. To get more buy in and enthusiasm, try asking your teen for input on chores that s/he is interested in doing and that can be done within an agreed upon time table. Then teach him how to do it correctly. Not only does it make things easier for a parent, but can even provide some quality time in which parents, teens, and children can work side by side, joke around, and communicate. Be sure to praise them for a job well done, and show appreciation when they perform extra work. It will make them feel valued and worthwhile—and more likely to help out more around the house.
8. Just as there are responsibilities, your teen should also have privileges. It can’t be “all work and no play.” Allow him to hang out with friends, go to the movies, or simply have time by himself. This will allow him to be more grateful for his downtime and let him know that you, as a parent, trust him, and appreciate his daily efforts.
9. Introduce the Thank You Box. Identify a box that the entire family can use to place in their weekly wishes and requests, at the beginning of the week. These wishes are stated as: “Thank you for …” whatever it is they wish for the week. The wishes would typically be small things that would make life easier for another person in the family. However, sometimes, wishes might be more grandiose and fun. For example “Thank you, Dad, for taking me to see the Super Bowl.” or “Thank you, John, for cleaning your room.” At the end of the week, the family takes a look at the wishes that were granted, and then give thanks for them. Those that were not granted remain in the box until granted or until the person who requested for it feels no desire to continue with the wish. This will make each family member appreciate one another, and provide a venue for family bonding.
10. Encourage service: When children, teens, and adults help others, gratitude blossoms. On the one hand, people who do charity or help others who are less fortunate, can see how fortunate they really are to have many gifts and blessings in their lives. For example, working with children who have disabilities reminds teens to be grateful for the abilities they have. Working with the blind helps teens to remember how blessed they are to see. On the other hand, service gives you the warm, fuzzy feeling one only gets when they help others. Teens can be grateful for feeling useful and making a difference. Imagine how grateful one would feel when a child in the Special Olympics tells their teen helper; “I couldn’t have done it with out you.” It may seem counterintuitive, but service breeds gratitude.
Note: Make sure that words of gratitude and expressions of love are heard and performed daily. Everyone likes to be appreciated; a hug when she comes home from school, a goodnight kiss, or a simple “thank you” for dinner. Be generous in giving your thanks for your teens’ efforts.
Remember: Gratitude is the attitude of being thankful and attitude is very much influenced by an individual’s environment. You don’t have to have a lot to have abundant gratitude. Though our teens may not acknowledge it, you, their parents are a very important influence in their lives. As we all know, no amount of words will instill in them the values we wish them to have–unless they see those values in us. Consciously and unconsciously, what they see in us everyday will be reflected in their daily lives.