How To Encourage Gratitude In Your Children
By definition, gratitude is an emotional state cultivated by the act of consciously saying “thank you” for the good in your life. Being grateful for what you currently have puts you in a better feeling state. This makes it more likely that more positive experiences will come your way to be grateful for. And you’ll be in the headspace (or heart-space) to receive it and say thank you for it.
Most parents begin teaching their children manners early on, encouraging them to say thank you when appropriate. This is a great start. We can go even further to encourage gratitude as a part of our children’s daily lives and ultimately their mindset and way of viewing the world.
Here are four ways to get started today:
Say Thank You To Them
Modeling is key for teaching children. “Do as I say, not as I do” does not apply. Their young, impressionable eyes are always watching. Therefore we must show gratitude to instill it as a value in them. This ranges from saying verbal thank yous to each other, and to those who provide you a service. To writing thank you notes, and ensuring your children write thank you notes or give “thank you” phone calls when they receive gifts.
In our house we don’t practice a specific religion. So when we sit down to dinner, in lieu of grace, we go around the table saying what we are grateful for at the moment. This is a practice you can start with children as soon as they can talk. We make it age appropriate for our one-and-a-half-year-old asking her “What are you happy about?” or “What makes you happy?” and her responses range from people, to a certain toy or an animal. We’re starting the mindset of gratitude early. Many families add this on as a practice before or after grace at each meal.
Gratitude journaling is the daily practice of logging what you are grateful for. Social media expert, and mom of 3, Daphne Leblanc suggests you “write down one thing you are grateful for in your day, as it not only reminds you of all the things you have, but seriously changes your perspective and mindset. It forces you to think positively.” There are many ways to begin gratitude journaling, whether it be writing one item on a post-it each morning, or a full list in a diary before bed. The key is to make it a daily act, so it becomes a habit.
There’s An App For That
When dealing with older children and teens, gratitude journaling may seem like too much “work.” Luckily there are many free apps that you and your children can use to record what you’re grateful for during the day. Some apps will even remind you to enter what you’re grateful for in timed intervals.
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is easy. Consistency is key. Try the tactics above and you’ll notice all the good around you, and be mindful of when more experiences pop up for you give thanks for.
Danielle Faust is the founder of FitNoire.com, a wellness site by and for Black women. She is also the voice behind the parenting/lifestyle blog OKDani.com. The mom of two is a certified life and wellness coach based in south Florida.