Gratitude is …
… to be thankful, to show appreciation and to return kindness. Gratitude is widely believed to be linked with greater life satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and a more optimistic attitude in general. How did you learn to be grateful? How are your children learning to be grateful?
Feeling grateful is thought to encourage greater levels of compassion, hope, and positivity, traits that are especially important for our children as they build their character and develop habits.
We all want our children to be happy, healthy and kind. So how do we foster this “attitude of gratitude” in our kids so they can sow and reap the benefits as they grow?
Here are five easy ways to teach kids gratitude at home – and they’re even simpler than you think!
1. Talk About the Kind Acts You Receive
According to psychologist Jeffrey Froh, in order for any of us to feel genuinely grateful, we must recognise these three simple things in every act of kindness:
- The Intent – That somebody put me first.
- The Cost – What somebody gave up for me (such as their time or money).
- The Benefit – What both the giver and receiver gained.
Help your children to get into the habit of appreciating others by regularly talking about kind acts that you notice and receive in these terms – actively noticing when others put you first, recognising aloud how much effort they went to, and reflecting on the benefits you have received.
2. Be a Grateful Parent
“I love being your parent.”
“I love watching you (play/dance/make).”
“I love listening to you (read/tell me about your day).”
“I love it when you…”
“I feel so lucky to have you.”
“I love your smile/cuddles/friendship.”
Drawing love hearts on sticky notes (or using other symbols that might trigger grateful thoughts) and putting them around the home can also help to bring you back to centre when you’re feeling overwhelmed or less than grateful!
3. Write Thank You Notes
Sitting down with your children to write thank you notes for birthday gifts received is an important and joyful activity, and a great opportunity to practice gratitude that can be enjoyed at any age.
But what about other day-to-day acts of kindness that you receive? There are many people worthy of our written thanks – teachers, neighbours, family members, friends. Writing thank you notes and delivering/mailing them is a great opportunity for us to teach kids gratitude and lead by example. Think about who packs your child’s parachute everyday and of ways to thank them. If you happen to know the love language of the person you want to thank, you will be able to say thank you in a way they will really appreciate!
One of the easiest ways to get into the habit of writing thank you notes (and not just think about it!) is to buy a beautiful set of writing paper and make sure you have it on-hand.
4. Create Family Rituals
Does your family already have dinner together on most nights, without distractions? If so, you’re in the perfect position to gently introduce the sweet ritual of expressing gratitude together!
If not, you could start with these easy steps:
- Commit to a regular nightly dinner time.
- Serve it at the table.
- Agree as a family that this special time will be kept completely screen-free.
- Ask each person to name three things they feel grateful for today.
Start tonight, and notice how quickly your attitudes start to shift!
5. Give Mindful Gifts
Instead of buying them more toys, gadgets and trinkets, teach kids gratitude by giving them meaningful gifts. Give things that will encourage personal development through exposure to new activities, or simply support one of their existing hobbies or interests!