Firstly, what is Gratitude? Gratitude is a feeling of appreciation for what one has. In simple terms, Gratitude is the art of counting your blessings. As parents we want our children to grow up being humble, kind, grateful and to have good moral values. One of the ways to teach most of those things is to practice gratitude with your child, and in front of your child, frequently.
Disclaimer: This post has some contributed content for which I have been compensated, but most of these words are my own.
Recently there have been studies that prove that the act of consciously counting your blessings, can actually make people happier and less depressed. The long term benefits of mindful gratitude can improve one’s mental health, happiness and promote respect, kindness and understanding of others.
The act of being Grateful, consists of the following components:
- An acknowledgment that one has been given, or been offered, some benefit or gift
- A recognition that the benefit is not deserved and comes from a source outside oneself
- An openness to express this feeling
- An intention to express this feeling in action in the future
Why it’s important to teach children gratitude
It is crucial for children to learn gratitude because it teaches them to appreciate the things they have and that not everyone has the same privileges as them. It teaches empathy for others and how to share their things with others – which is a great skill in today’s world. Gratitude is an important part of a child’s development, especially in today’s world where society tends to place more value on material goods than on human relationships. Teaching children about gratitude not only teaches them how to be grateful but also how to empathize with others who may not have the same privileges or access that they do.
How to Demonstrate Gratitude To Our Children
Children look to their parents for guidance, we are the model for how to behave and what to say in different situations. Expressing gratitude through our choice of words or actions can teach children more about how to be grateful themselves.
As a parent, you can demonstrate to your child how to express and practice gratitude in their everyday life. A simple thank you is the most basic starting point but it goes further, into how we express our feelings for any positive aspect of our life, such as the place you live, or the food you’re eating – your child will quickly learn to express their own feelings of gratitude if they watch your practice gratitude daily.
3 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your Children
Gratitude is a good thing. It helps us to feel better, physically and emotionally. It can also positively influence our relationships with others.
As your child grows and learns more about the world around them, they may encounter people who are not as fortunate. Parents should encourage children to think of ways in which they can improve other people’s lives. This will cement their own feelings of gratitude for their personal blessings. This girls’ prep school in Hillingdon promotes a kind, supportive and loving community amongst pupils of all ages and it’s very important that children experience these things at school as well as home.
Begin at home
If your child has siblings, this is a great place to begin promoting sharing and kindness. Equally, children can also be kind to their parents and other extended family members. As you offer kindness to your child they will naturally learn to express their feelings and feel gratitude.
There are many ways to express gratitude in your daily life and make it a part of your routine. Here are some suggestions:
- Say thank you when someone gives you something, even if it is just a small thing like a smile or helping an elderly person cross the street.
- Write down three things that you appreciate about yourself each day.
- Share what you’re grateful for on social media at the end of each day, specifying why you’re grateful and tagging friends who might enjoy hearing from you about this topic as well.
- Do a Random Act Of Kindness and encourage your children to join in too.
- When someone compliments or does something nice for you, say thank you and give them an appreciative hug
A Gratitude Jar
Another great way to practice gratitude is to create a Gratitude Jar or a gratitude journal. A Gratitude Jar is where you get an actual jar (or you can download a DIY gratitude Jar here), and you fill it with little handwritten notes of things you are grateful for. You can sit and write a few all at once, or you can simply leave a notepad near the jar and every time you think of something to be grateful for, you write it down and put it in the jar.
On days when you’re maybe not feeling so grateful, or you’re struggling with something, you can take a piece of paper out of the Gratitude Jar at random, and it will have a handwritten note from yourself of something to be grateful for.
I’d love to hear of ways that you practice gratitude with your kids, please let me know in the comments below.