This weekend many of us will gather around the dinner table set with the finest dishes and crystal. The centre piece will be the golden brown, perfectly cooked, aromatic turkey. The table will be flanked with all the fixings that go along with Thanksgiving dinner. When everyone is gathered around the table, a tradition is for all to share one thing that they are grateful for. I know. My family groans and moans too. But just for a minute, everyone is in the present, in a positive mindset. Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It is a “thing” but so many have difficulty expressing their gratitude. It is more than “please” and “thank you”. It is being truly grateful for the beauty and abundance we have in our lives.
Gratitude works. Practicing gratitude increases your optimism and total well-being. You feel gratitude emotionally, physically and socially. It turns the negatives into positives. It can change your entire perspective and keep you moving forward. Gratitude opens doors to relationships. It can improve physical health and psychological health. Gratitude fosters empathy and less aggressive behaviour. It improves self-esteem and grateful people sleep better. Grateful people are more likely to set goals and achieve them, because they expect “good” things to happen and take advantage of the opportunities that come their way. It is a “state of being.”
Gratitude takes practice. Counting our blessings takes practice. Here are some ways to begin to encourage gratitude in our young children.
List Them – Each day ask your child to name something good that happened during their day. Talk about those positive events around the dinner table or at bed time. Demonstrate by going first.
Model It – Be positive and optimistic each and every day. Children do live what they learn.
Talk About People in your Life – We all take people for granted. Share why you value your friend, a colleague, the waitress, the cashier at the store, your child’s teacher. This helps your child develop social skills and make deeper connections with the people around them at a younger age.
Find the Silver Lining – Even challenges have pros. Look for them and focus on that. Focus on what was learned.
Make it your Family’s “thing” – Make gratitude a part of your family by starting a family journal, writing thank you notes or building a gratitude poster. Be creative and have fun.
Share with us how you teach your Child gratitude. We would love to hear your ideas.