Help grow gratitude in your children
Grateful parents raise grateful kids
Gratitude is not automatic, it develops over time and cultivating gratitude takes patience.
Gratitude is when we express appreciation for the things in our lives. We can be thankful for gifts we receive, the people who surround and support us, and all the fun things we get to do and experience. Gratitude is much more than saying please and thank you; it’s a mindset that you can model for your children. Studies show that showing gratitude eliminates negative thoughts, builds resilience and cultivates a higher sense of self-worth. Gratitude can also strengthen relationships beacuse when you appreciate other people and what they do for you, you create a bond and build trust that helps you feel more connected to others.
How Does It Work?
A study from UNC-Chapel Hill showed that there are four parts in teaching gratitude to children.
1. Noticing- helping children to become aware of a person, place or thing to appreciate. Did someone do something nice for you? Take you somewhere fun?
2. Thinking- asking a child why are you thankful for this person or thing? Why do you think they did something nice for you? Is it exciting to receive a gift or do a new activity?
3. Feeling- when you think about these special people or things, how do you feel? Happy? Proud? Excited?
4. Doing- how you express your appreciation. Brainstorming age appropriate ways with your children on how to express gratitude.
Children learn by modeling the behavior around them. Here are a few simple ways to start modeling gratitude:
– Tell your children why you feel thankful in moments of shared joy.
– Express your gratitude for your partner in front of your kids.
– Before each family meal say a few words of gratitude for the food you’re about to enjoy.
– Express your gratitude for your child when they are kind to their sibling or friend.
– Start a journal with your child and ask them to recall inspiring moments or moments that made them feel good from each day or week.
– At bedtime, say three things you appreciate about your child and ask them to do the same
– In the car, ask you child to tell you something “cool” or new about the scenery outside.
– Write thank you notes together.
– Read books about gratitude.
– Explain to your children that their experiences may be different from others, some are more fortunate and some are less fortunate. We are grateful for our own lives and do not compare ourselves to others.
The holidays are a great time to express your gratitude to children. If you practice gratitude, your children will too. Studies show that grateful children tend to be happier, more engaged in hobbies and schoolwork, have better relationships and greater satisfaction in life. When children feel grateful for someone’s actions, they are more likely to show kindness in return.
Remember that gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic approach in which the bad things in life are
ignored. It’s more a matter of where you place your focus and attention. If your child was set to go to the park, but it started raining, you can point out that while it’s disappointing, you can still have fun inside the house. It’s important to teach children to see the positive in things even if they don’t turn out the way they wanted.
Gratitude balances you and gives you hope. Gratitude can lead to feelings of love,
appreciation, generosity, and compassion, which further opens your heart and helps rewire your
brain to fire in more positive ways.
I am extremely grateful to have you as part of my community. I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank you for all that you do to improve your own health and the health of the people you love! I’d like to wish you and your family, a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving!
To your good health,