“Showing gratitude is one of the simplest yet most powerful things humans can do for each other.” — Randy Rausch
Thanksgiving is just around the corner! At the center of this holiday is celebrating all that we have in our lives and all that we have received. It’s a time to express our gratitude and give thanks for the kindness of others.
But gratitude isn’t something we just know how to recognize instinctively. It’s something we begin learning about as children and it has both short and long-term impacts. For instance, studies have shown children who are taught to be grateful experience less stress, perform better in school, have increased happiness in school and experience good relationships with their friends. Practicing gratitude may reduce aggressiveness and violence in adults as well as improve interpersonal skills. These adults are also more likely to perform kind acts.
When helping your child to learn this skill, it’s important to be patient! Developing a sense of gratitude does not happen overnight. Here are some ideas that can help:
- Demonstrate what thankfulness and gratitude look like. You are the best inspiration for your children so if they see you do kind things, they will pick up on them. Ways to model gratitude might include saying thank you to people who serve you at a grocery store or at a restaurant, showing appreciation for a kind gesture by giving a hug in return or asking your child to help you write thank you notes after receiving gifts.
- Use daily interactions and conversations to teach gratitude. Say “please” and “thank you” when you make requests to your children. Incorporate language in daily conversation that encourages the value of gratitude such as, “We’re so lucky to have a park to play at,” or “I really appreciate when you listen.”
- Plan activities as a family that encourage thankfulness. This blog contains ideas such as making a gratitude jar, donating together as a family and other ways to engage children in practicing gratitude daily.
- Read books together about what it means to be thankful. Books are a great way to help children learn new language around gratitude, and help give context to what it means and why it is important. Check out this list of children’s books that have a theme around gratitude.
It’s never too late to develop an attitude of gratitude! Start today and set the foundation for both short- and long-term benefits.
This article was written for the November 2019 edition of Parent Source.