Studies show that people who regularly express gratitude toward others are more likely to be a helpful, compassionate, generous, happy, and healthy person. Although children can’t yet identify and express complex feelings, it’s important to begin to build a sense of gratitude from the early years.
There are many ways to nurture gratitude at home. Start by modeling it yourself and create family traditions that center around it. Here are some ideas:
- Let your children know what you appreciate about them. Notice all the things you are grateful for and appreciate about your children. Then simply tell them so! You’ll notice that appreciation is a great motivator, even stronger than praise.
- Model appreciation and gratitude towards others. Children learn through observation. They’re like sponges, absorbing information and then imitating and doing it themselves. Kids pay attention to the way we treat others; set a good example. Be caring and thankful in your everyday interactions with other people.
- Use the words “grateful” and “thankful” in your everyday vocabulary. By hearing it often, children will learn what these words mean. Tell them that being grateful means noticing something in your life that makes you happy. For example, you can say “I’m grateful for this beautiful day!”. Encourage the expression of their appreciation for the people who surround them and contribute to their lives.
- Choose a “gratitude” activity to incorporate into your routine. Whether it’s listing the things you are grateful for every day before you go to bed, sharing stories about thankfulness, gratitude and generosity; or keeping a gratitude journal together, incorporating an activity related to gratitude will help you practice it every day. Then, it’ll become part of who you and your kids are.
By practicing gratitude, we focus on the good instead of the negative things in our lives, helping us have a positive outlook. It’s one of the secrets for a happy life. Why not start today?
- Parlakian, R., & MacLaughlin, S. S. (2017, November 15). Nurturing Gratitude. Retrieved from https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2108-nurturing-gratitude