How to Teach Children Gratitude
What is gratitude?
Being grateful goes further than saying "thank you". Gratitude is being mindful of your surroundings, being present in the moment, being aware of and expressing gratitude for the people and things in our lives. Gratitude isn't an act, it's a lifestyle. It's a practice that can take time to make a habit, but once you do it's life changing.
Gratitude has the potential to turn a bad or "blah" day, into a great day. It puts life into perspective by opening our eyes and senses to nature, our family, strangers and the little things in life we often taken for granted. When we take the time to realize how many blessings we have, we no longer focus on all of the things we don't have. Gratitude is teaching us to be happy, just because!
Benefits of Practicing Gratitude
Gratitude can be practiced by anyone at anytime. You don't even need anything - except your attention. Gratitude is important for many reasons and the benefits are substantial. Practicing gratitude has the ability to:
- reduce stress and anxiety,
- build resilience and confidence, and
- improve mental and physical health.
How to Teach Gratitude
Here I will share tips on how to raise a grateful child. Unfortunately teaching gratitude is not a miracle one time discussion or activity, but I can guarantee the work you put in will not be wasted. Raising grateful children goes far beyond saying, “Thank you”. It’s being mindful, happy, finding fulfillment, love and appreciation for oneself, nature and all that surrounds us.
Here are a few gratitude activities you can begin with today!
Express Gratitude to Others:
Let your child witness you, their role model, expressing gratitude. Whether it’s to your child for getting dressed without asking, thanking a stranger for holding the door, or baking your neighbours cookies because they shovelled your driveway for you. It seems simple, but we get into a routine or zone and sometimes miss the small things.
Write it Out in a Gratitude Journal:
Have your child keep a daily gratitude journal (such as The Making of a Grateful Heart!) and complete it together. A guided journal will form the habit, and with consistency they will begin thinking about reasons to feel grateful without being prompted.
As a family, look for reasons to be grateful wherever you are. You may be driving, going for a nature walk or simply hanging out at home. Spark the conversation in different environments and watch as your family becomes more aware of whats really around you on a day-to-day basis.
Make a Gratitude Plant:
If your little ones are like mine, they love crafts and anything interactive. Two of my favourites are having my children draw a picture of what they’re grateful for, and making a gratitude tree. Our tree is more of a plant, but you get the idea. We each take a few tags and write on them what we’re grateful for, then hang them on the branches or leaves. Keep the plant or tree where you will see it daily, and it will be another reminder of practicing gratitude. Feel free to switch out the tags as often as you’d like! Here's a photo of our families gratitude plant!
Trust me parents, I know we have enough on our plates. But if you make practicing and encouraging gratitude fun, I promise it won’t feel like work! It’s another way to enjoy quality family time together and open new conversation with your children. For some added inspiration, here are additional benefits of practicing daily gratitude:
- Positive mindset
- Happy, just because!
- Self acceptance and love
- Improves self esteem
- Reduces aggression
Enjoy practicing gratitude with your family and watch as everyone benefits!