The art of appreciation starts by having gratitude and thankfulness, which are values that are the trickiest to instil into our little kiddos. Who are most by nature are quite self-centred. However, they are other important values to build in them that can mean a difference. Kids who are not taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled that they can get everything they want. Indeed, instilling grateful feelings now will benefit your child later in life. A study at the University of California at Davis in the early 2000s showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism - along with lower levels of depression and stress. The catch is, no one is born grateful! Recognising that someone has gone out of the way to do something nice for you does not occur naturally for children \u2013 it has to be taught. Image from stock.adobe.com The Art of Appreciation 101 Teaching Gratitude in the Early Years Toddlers are by definition are an egocentric group of little ones. But that does not mean that we can't nurture the art of appreciating in them. Children as young as 15 to 18 months can begin to grasp concepts that lead to gratitude. It begins when they start to understand that they dependant on their Mummy, Daddy and other family members do things for them. Parents who openly show their appreciation for little gestures towards them are likely to raise appreciative children. Children as young as two years old emulate what they see at home and if they are surrounded by people who never forget to say \u201cthank you\u201d or \u201cthat\u2019s so nice of you!\u201d pretty soon that attitude can\u2019t help, pure and simple! If taught right and if they are brought up in favourable surroundings, by age 4, children can easily understand about being thankful not only for material things like toys but for acts of kindness, love and care are given to them. The Right Way To Teach Them! Children watch and copy their family members in every way, so make sure you use \u201cplease\u201d and \u201cthank you\u201d amongst yourselves and most importantly when you talk to them. \u201cThanks for that hug, it made Mummy really happy!\u201d or \u201cHow nice of you to help me get that\u201d are not mere words to children. They\u2019re lessons that are being absorbed into their minds as the way things should be and how they should behave! Insist on their using similar words, too. After all, you will find that good manners and gratitude overlap in one\u2019s behaviour, old or young! Work On Gratitude If you haven\u2019t been giving it much thought before this, try weaving appreciation for seemingly mundane things into your everyday conversations \u201cWe\u2019re so lucky to have a kind Aunt like Aunty Anna\u201d, or \u201cIsn\u2019t this soup delicious?\u201c, or even \u201c I feel so happy when you listen to me!\u201d When reinforced frequently enough, the ideas of showing gratitude and feeling thankful are more likely to stick. One old-fashioned, time-tested idea is to discuss \u201call the good things that happened today\u201d as part of the dinnertime conversation. Try it! Get The Kids To Help The following has happened to almost every one of us. We assign our little one a chore, but it\u2019s too agonising to wait for them take forever to complete it- be it clearing the table or putting away their toys. In the end, the temptation to do it ourselves and be done with it always wins over. Here\u2019s the thing! The more you do for them, the less they learn to appreciate your efforts. (Don\u2019t you yourself feel more empathy for people who work outside on smouldering hot days when you\u2019ve just been out there watering the plants or hanging out the clothes to dry?) By participating in seemingly mundane chores like feeding the pet, setting the table or sorting out the family laundry, kids realise that all these things Mummy or Daddy do for the family take effort. Engage in a goodwill project together. This does not mean you drag your little kiddo off to serve in a soup kitchen every week. Instead, there are many other ways a child can actively participate in helping someone else. It could be something as simple as baking a batch of cookies for a sick neighbour or relative. As you\u2019re stirring the batter or adding the chocolate chips, try talking or explaining about why you\u2019re making them for this special person and also how happy the recipient will be. Encourage Generosity There are so many associations, homes and orphanages that could do with a little kindness from the public. You can begin by visiting one of these with goodies or cash. Take your child with you, explaining to him or her why you\u2019re doing this which is to help the less fortunate and to let them feel some happiness their lives. Let your child see you go through your closet for clothes to give away to those in need. Tell your child that no matter how much you like an item of clothing, you feel that someone else needs it more! It might inspire them to go through their own stuff and give something special to those in need as well! Image from stock.adobe.com The Value Of Thank-You Notes Familiarise your kids from a very young age with the concept of \u201cThank you\u201d notes. Whenever your child receives a gift or if someone has done something nice for them, insist that the giver be sent a note of appreciation! If it\u2019s from a toddler, the card or note can be just scribbles or doodles with your own thank-you attached. As your child grows older, their own efforts of better drawings and longer notes can be included. Young children can also \u2018dictate\u2019 a thank-you note while Mummy writes it down. Just the act of saying out loud why he or she loved the gift\/gesture is capable of instilling the vibes of gratefulness. We Can't Always Get What We Want It\u2019s rare if a child does not ask for toys, video games, cookies and candy sometimes on an hourly basis. Kids will be kids and they will not give up! However, do know that it's difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful for anything when your every whim is granted without fail. Besides, saying \u201cno\u201d more frequently makes \u201cyes\u201d that much sweeter. Patience Is A Virtue! If you\u2019re only just beginning to try to make little appreciative angels out of your demanding little ones, don\u2019t expect great changes overnight as it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. However, trust in yourself, for you will be rewarded! The key is to showcase your own appreciation for life and all the good things your family and you enjoy! Talk about them more often to your little one. Slowly but surely, they\u2019ll get it! How about that? We hope this write up inspires all you to encourage and nurture the art of appreciation. Everything takes time, courage and patience to achieve. May it be worthwhile for all parents. Stay tuned for more write up from us on our blog and check out Motherhood.com.my for all the baby items!