Gratitude. We all (hopefully) know what it means and what it looks like. However, is gratitude something that as sort of fallen by the wayside during the last few generations? Are we making an impact on our kids and showing them gratitude as well as teaching them the importance of being thankful? I know many of us talk about being thankful around the holidays, but are we continuing to work on this message year round with our kids? With ourselves?
Studies have shown that people who keep weekly gratitude journals are better emotionally and physically. They have lower blood pressure and stress, exhibit more positive emotions, stronger immune systems and feel less lonely on those days when the blues can creep up on us. So, why don’t we decide to not take gratitude for granted? There are simple things you and your family can do to impress the importance of gratitude with our children and families all year long.
-Teach kids that being thankful isn’t just about receiving a gift or a special privilege. Be thankful for what you are also able to give.
-Teach children to make thank-yous a party of every act every day.
-Encourage them (and all members of your family) to keep a gratitude journal and contribute to it at least weekly. The younger ones can draw pictures in lieu of the written word. Having the child describe and explain the drawing will help them to continue to articulate and be mindful of gratitude.
-Have each family member share his or her gratitude journal with the rest of the family.
-Take turns thanking each other at the dinner (or breakfast) table each day.
-Do it even when you don’t feel like it. Our children watch us and do as we do. Even when its hardest, something as simple as being grateful for the sun outside, healthy children, a home (no matter how chaotic it might be). Don’t forget to be grateful for the simple things.
Modeling gratitude in our homes will help our children (and ourselves) create a more positive environment in other places such as school, work and clubs. From there we can only hope that the kindness, manners, thoughtfulness and GRATITUDE will spread!