As adults, we recognise the importance of maintaining an attitude of gratitude. It makes us appreciate the things we have in our lives, boosts happiness and helps us deal with setbacks. Our brains are wired to focus on adversity. An ancestral defence mechanism left over in our genetic makeup which has successfully protected us from danger for millennia. This neurological hardwiring sometimes leads us to overlook the good things around us and hone in on the bad. For this reason, it’s important we consciously aim to acknowledge the positive in our lives. Just as it is for adults, gratitude is an ongoing practice for children. It can take a little work to form a lasting habit. With help from a private school in New York I have assembled my 5 top tips for helping children explore gratitude. Something which could benefit the whole family.
1 – GRATITUDE JOURNALS
Have your child write down 3 things they are grateful for each night before they go to sleep. The act of putting pen to paper will encourage them to reflect on their day in more depth. Actively seeking out positive moments will get them into the habit of noticing good things as they happen.
2 – THANK YOU NOTES
Expressing gratitude is equally important as feeling it. In the material world, we live in, it’s all too easy for children to become expectant and feel entitled to the things they want. Taking the time to write a thank you note after receiving a gift will prompt children to consider the time and effort that person put into getting something they would enjoy.
3 – CHORES
Pitching in with household duties will make children realise the hard work that goes into providing them with a lovely home. Having them help out with simple tasks will teach them not to take things like clean laundry and healthy cooked meals for granted. They will also develop more respect for the home and be more concerned with keeping it clean and tidy.
4 – ROLE MODELS
If your child constantly hears you complaining about your day, your home, your body, your loved ones, they will follow suit. We all need to vent from time to time, but try not to normalise negative talk in front of your kids. Instead, focus on highlighting things that have made you happy or that you’re proud of. Create an environment where it’s commonplace to look for the silver lining and speak positively about yourself and others.
5 – BE CONSISTENT
Just to reiterate, gratitude takes practice! It’s far easier to slip back to dwelling on the negatives. To truly cement this new, positive habit, it’s important that you make a commitment to implementing gratitude practice into your children’s lives every single day.