Luckily, kids are much more aware of connections and life around them, and have an ability to appreciate that we big people forget. Still, it can be a challenge to help your kids be more grateful. Aside from the forced “Say thank you to Aunt Jane for the sweater.” What can we do?
Some specific suggestions to help your kids embrace an attitude of gratitude:
1. Make mimicry your friend. The more you say please and thank you and note nice things people do for you, the more they will pay attention to that as well.
2. Volunteer as a family. Maybe it is volunteering for a Food bank or homeless shelter, maybe it is helping the neighbor down the street. Put yourself out there, do a kind deed or two, and don’t expect anything in return for your efforts. Perform acts of kindness to be just that, kind.
3. Send thank you card. Your Aunt Jane gives you a sweater? Write a thank you note. Your teacher goes an extra mile and drops off the homework assignment at the house when your child is sick? Both of you should write a thank you card.
4. Think about specific things you are grateful for and share them with the family at dinner time.
5. Compliment each other. Saying something genuinely nice to another can feel a little awkward but it will also give you a feeling of happiness when you see how happy your words make that person. Need practice? Give the family cat a string of complements!
6. Don’t stop at thank you; go on to explore why something makes you happy or you are grateful for. Exploring these large feelings of gratitude with your kids will be an amazing adventure for you; the way their minds and hearts work is awesome!
7. Take gratitude walks. Look at the simple pleasures in the day, from lovely flowers to beautiful stone patterns to the feeling of a warm breeze on your cheeks.
8. Make a gratitude jar or tree. Kids love visuals, and taking the time to write down the gratitudes, and post it on a tree or in a jar helps keep these feelings forefront. Also, you’ll be building a physical reminder about all of the wonderful things there are to be grateful for. Another visual reminder option might be to make a collage.
9. Talk about feeling grateful together. Help your kids develop their language around feeling gratitude and explore the many aspects: What do we notice in our lives for which we can be grateful? How do we think about why we have been given those things? How do we feel about the things we have been given. What can we do to express appreciation in turn? Notice, think, feel, do.
10. Be positive. Again, this is where mimicry will be your friend. Helping you (and your kids!) see the positive in a difficult situation will help your kids flex and build optimism muscles as well.
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