Positive emotions are important skills and habits that we can teach our children. Feeling gratitude is a learned skill to be practiced – like kicking a soccer ball or learning to speak a second language.
Practicing gratitude can be perfectly easy! Simply state and restate the things in your life that you feel thankful for and ask your children to do the same. It might not be easy if your children think it’s silly, but persistence is the key. Choose a gratitude practice and stick with it until it feels natural for the entire family.
Here are three tips to get children into the habit of counting their blessings:
Tip #1: Use a Gratitude Box in Your House
Each day, each family member can take a minute to write down something they are thankful for on a scrap of paper, and then add it to the box. One evening a week, take turns reading “gratitude fortunes” from the box.
Tip #2: Have an Appreciation Time Before Tucking Children in Bed
Family members take turns saying what they appreciate about each of the other family members before bedtime.
Tip #3: Visit Your Local Library and Read the Book “The Giving Tree”
Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” is a beautiful lesson of gratitude. Read it with your children and discuss its meaning. “The Giving Tree” is available on Amazon.
Expressing gratitude teaches our children to recognize that the most meaningful gifts are often non-material. Perhaps the greatest motivation to do this is that scientists have found that people practicing gratitude feel happier, sleep better and are more likely to be kind and helpful to others.
What other tips would you add to this list to help your child practice gratitude? Share your best tips or ask us questions in the comments below.