How to Raise Gracious Kids

“Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.”

– C.S. Lewis

Wanting the best for our kids is one thing that all parents agree on. But in an entitled world where caring, empathy, and courtesy often fall by the wayside, how can we raise gracious kids, who will do the right thing, even when no one is looking?

While there is no guaranteed formula, here are some ways that parents can do to bring up gracious kids:

Cultivate a Gracious Heart.
Start at the root of graciousness by teaching your child to be grateful. Take the time to thank others. Whether it’s for a meal you prepared for lunch, or for the gift from Grandma, encourage your kids to say “thank you” until it becomes a habit.

Model Good Behavior.
Raising gracious kids begins at home and nothing will help our child learn to be gracious towards others more effectively than watching us demonstrate it each day. It goes without saying that we directly influence how our kids will be. Show them what it means to be gracious ever day through simple things like saying “thank you” to a waitress who served your food, a helpful neighbor, and encourage them to do the same.

Act with Love.
Spend time with your children regularly and ask open-ended questions to foster meaningful conversation. Show affection and take genuine interest in their life to build a positive and loving relationship between you and your kids.

Foster their Caring Spirit.
Children need to learn to balance their needs with the needs of others. Encourage your kids to be kind to other and to work out problems by thinking about the people who will be affected by their actions.

Encourage Helping.
The habit of helping others starts with doing chores at home. Children love to feel independent and capable so assign simple tasks that they can do themselves like setting the table, watering the plants, and feeding the dog.

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ . . . I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.”

– Fred Rogers

Be Specific.
According to Elizabeth Hartley-Brewer, author of Praising Boys Well and Praising Girls Well, Overpraising children can get them hooked on success and celebration instead of being satisfied by their own accomplishment. Instead, try to be specific on your praises to let your child know that you are really taking notice of her work and will encourage her to do more. For example, instead of saying, “That’s an amazing drawing!” say, “I love how you made your sun, and look how fluffy the clouds look!”

Teach them Generosity.
Together, you can collect cans for a food drive, gather old clothing for a shelter, or give what you can to those in need. The act of volunteering can shape your child’s character so teach them to serve others through giving back. When kids help others, they learn to think about other people’s needs and make them feel better for creating a difference in others’ lives.

Help Them Understand Emotions.
Studies have shown that having a high emotional quotient, which is the ability to understand one’s own feelings, the feelings of others, having self-control, and being able to control one’s own emotions, is an important component of success in life. Encourage your child to talk about his feelings and show them that you understand so they can better manage it.

Reward It.
Don’t miss an opportunity to reinforce graciousness in your children. When you observe them thinking of others and showing good behavior, don’t forget to mention it and tell them how proud you are. Telling them and praising them the right way will inspire them to do the same thing again.

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