This is a companion piece to the post Gratitude: It’s Not Just For Thanksgiving.
“What we’ve learned is that gratitude is a skill, like learning to speak German or swing a bat: it needs to be taught to kids, and it needs to be practiced consciously and deliberately. If your family doesn’t have a regular gratitude routine, this is the week to start it.” — Christine Carter
It’s such a delicate balance, this dance of providing for our kids and raising them with thankful hearts. I want to spoil them but not have them be spoiled. I want them to understand that what we have is
enough more than enough. Above all, I want them to be grateful, not for stuff, but for life.
Gratitude and Kids, Why:
- Grateful kids are more kind (and enthusiastic, interested, determined!)
- They are more likely to help others
- Grateful teens are happier
- And get better grades
- And have decreased levels of stress
“A person who is grateful tends to spend less time comparing him or herself with others and feeling envious. [Gratitude] also helps people, especially children, step into someone else’s shoes and realize that another person did something nice for them even though he or she didn’t have to.” — Everyday Health
But in a society where kids increasingly have access to more, more, more, how can us parents reconcile it all?
Gratitude and Kids, How:
1. Model and teach gratitude: click here for a few quick, concrete ideas from my previous post to start your own gratitude practice.
2. Start a family gratitude list: The “shopping with mom” referenced above was for our family’s new gratitude board, a square, framed chalkboard which I hung in the highest-traffic area of the house: the kitchen. We are all having so much fun using our new chalk markers and jotting down the little things which made us smile during the week!
Daughter also picked the small chalkboard pictured above for her room. It certainly put a smile on my face when, last week, she raced from the car to her room after errands to write something special on her board. ❤
3. Keep a family gratitude calendar: Similar to an advent calendar, but instead of getting a tiny gift every day, kids write a gratidude — one per day — on a slip of paper and insert the note into the pocket or space for each day. I love this one, and I’m hoping to find an advent calendar that’s not so holiday-ish to keep on display for this purpose all year long.
4. Name your daily joys: For as long as we have been able to sit around the dinner table as a family, Husband has posed the question to each of us, “what was the best part of your day?” We all take our turns describing our favorite part of the day, to which often the answer is, and not always just from us parents, “right now.” I’m thankful to him for starting this practice, and I have loved hearing the kids’ answers spanning their childhood.
5. Help kids find what matters to them: more ambiguous than the others, but perhaps the most important, for both kids and adults.
“Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life….The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.” (Source)
How exactly do we foster this as parents? For this, I do not have a checklist to offer. I suppose it’s part careful observation, part quality time/mindfulness spent with our kids, and part encouragement.
“As adults, it’s our job to help kids discover their passions and to find a path to purpose that resonates with them — with their values, interests and dreams.”
As we bridge the gap between holidays, I wish you and yours joy and gratitude, today and every day. Please take a moment to share how you and/or your family practices gratitude…we would be most thankful to know!