Saying ‘thank you’ is important but it’s often more about being polite than showing gratitude. Expressing gratitude helps provide us with prospective, slows down our busy lives and creates a healthy sense of balance.
Teaching our kids about being grateful is not easy. It’s a difficult concept for younger children to understand and it can be frustrating process trying to instil this important concept. Don’t worry, there’s a few ways you can teach your kids about gratitude that won’t take up too much time.
Here’s five to get you started:
If you would like your child to be grateful, model gratitude yourself. Say thank you when you mean it and make sure your child knows when you are grateful for something they do too. Children always look to adults to model their own behaviour so make sure you practice what you preach.
Create a ritual
A simple way to include gratitude in your family’s daily life is to talk about it at the dinner table. At dinner each night, have everyone list one thing they loved about their day. This helps children to see that even on days that feel bad, there is always something we can be grateful for – even if it’s only that we got through it. Gratitude journaling could be helpful for older children, or a great practice for adults too.
Say ‘thank you’
It’s about more than just having good manners. When you feel genuinely grateful for something or someone, say thank you. Write thank you notes, say thank you in person and post positive reviews on social media. At the end of the school year, have your child write a note of thanks to their teacher. Don’t force it, just encourage your child to say thanks when it is due, and they truly mean it.
Find gratitude in darker times
When your family or your child is suffering through darker times, look for a small piece of light. Being able to acknowledge that you still have something to be grateful for even during this kind of experience is a skill that’s worth working on.
Feeling sick? You can be grateful for comfortable pyjamas and books to read. It doesn’t mean forgetting the bad or trying to gloss over it – just look for a tiny sliver of good in every moment.
Keep a journal
Not everyone loves verbalising their gratitude, so why not encourage your child to write it down instead? Spend a couple of minutes each day writing down the best things that happened and don’t make them share it. It can be their own private space for reflection.
Encouraging your child to express their gratitude can help build their resilience and create skills for life. When done together as a family it can also strengthen relationships and build some mindfulness into your day.