On the list of things you want your kids to be, I’ll bet grateful is there. How, though, do we teach and foster gratitude, and why is it so important?
By teaching children to actively practise gratitude in their formative years, we can help ingrain gratefulness that will remain with them as they grow and enter adulthood.
This may encourage them to see life from a glass-half-full perspective and appreciate all the little things that make life worthwhile, rather than ruminate on the negatives.
There are other benefits of practising gratitude too…
The Benefits of Practising Gratitude
Practising gratitude has many benefits for individuals, but also for families. Practising gratitude is known to enhance empathy and reduce aggression, which is great for the family dynamic.
Grateful people sleep better, have improved self-esteem and increased mental strength.
Practising gratitude can also improve relationships, by helping family members to appreciate each other more. In particular, it can help children to better acknowledge all that their parents do for them.
A Family Gratitude Jar
Families at every stage need pastimes that help to unite them as a strong and cohesive family unit. A great way to introduce practising gratitude to the family is to use a family gratitude jar. You can buy a cute jar from a variety store and some colourful Post-it notes and challenge your family to write something they are grateful for each day and put it in the jar.
Children as young as preschool age can get involved, as parents can prompt them and write for them. It is never too early to start; I wish I did with my family earlier. As the kids get older, I am sure they will enjoy this family ritual and can practise their spelling and grammar at the same time.
I have recently started a gratitude jar in our household of almost all teenage children. I must admit there was bribery involved to get this challenge off the ground as some teenagers do not like to do anything extra. So, we raffle the Post-it notes at the end of the month and the winner gets a prize.
Aside from bribery, I hope that by getting my children to appreciate a good thing every so often, they’ll see more good things everywhere in their lives. And yes, even my husband is participating occasionally.
I had to give the kids a few ideas at the beginning, such as being grateful for dinner, their house, driving them to school and activities, and for their family and friends. But they have stopped now, and I think my younger daughters, in particular, are enjoying the ritual. They keep asking me if they can put more than one note in each day. Although this may be to increase their chances of winning the prize at the end of the month rather than because they’re being super thankful…
Regardless, I am pleased that I broached this instalment with my family, and we have something positive that brings us all together. It’s a great feeling.
Getting Started with Gratitude
Maybe you could try this with your family too. Some great questions to get the grateful thoughts flowing spring from good things that happen during the day. For example, a person in their life that did something nice, something that is going well, like a good mark at school or success in sport, a simple pleasure or a good memory.
This is an inexpensive and worthwhile experiment that you can try with your family that you’re sure to thank yourself for embracing. Your younger family members may even open your eyes to more you can be grateful for and that’s a good thing for sure.
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Thanks for reading and I hope that a family gratitude jar or simply actively practising gratitude with your family can help to create a happier and more positive environment for everyone.