In a very consumer-driven world that is fast-paced and always moving to the “next thing”, it is often difficult to maintain a sense of contentment – not just for kids, but for adults, too. It is normal and okay to wish for things and consider what else is out there that might bring joy, but if dwelled on too much, it can make us always want something better, rather than being thankful for what we do have. Teaching contentment starts young. Here are some simple ways to nurture it in your children.
#1: Be a good example.
Children notice more than you might think. Are you always trading in your phone for the newest make and model? Do you complain about things often and talk about what things or products could make you happier? If your children see that you are content and happy with what you have, then chances are, they probably will be too. And vice versa — if you express discontentment all the time, your kids will likely do the same. Let your children see you practicing what it means to be content, because it’s a powerful example.
#2: Be grateful.
Contentment and gratitude go hand-in-hand. Being grateful has a unique way of instilling contentment in your heart and life. So, teach your kids what it means to be thankful. Sit down and work together to create a list of things that you are thankful for, whether it’s material blessings, friendships, family, or other things that can help them express gratitude. Or, at the dinner table, have your kids share one thing every night that they are grateful for during their day. Doing this often helps remind children of what really matters.
#3: Limit comparison.
It’s natural to compare yourself to others and as kids, this is very easy to do! In an era of social media, this is especially difficult. So, from a young age, create a line of communication about the dangers of comparing our lives with others. Talk about struggles they might be having and find some tools to break free of the comparison game. There will always be people who appear to have ‘everything’ or live the ‘perfect’ life, but assumptions can be very harmful and comparing your life with other lives will always lead to feelings of discontentment.
Work together with your children to give back to others. Whether it’s bringing cookies to a friend that is recovering from an illness, volunteering to help pick up garbage at a local park or making cards to mail to local nursing homes or hospitals, teaching children the importance of giving their time and their talents is part of cultivating a culture of gratitude and contentment. ‘Stuff’ never yields long term happiness but giving always does.
With a strong sense of contentment, your children will develop a greater appreciation for what they have and what they can offer to the world around them, ultimately inspiring others to do the same.