Teach children to be gratefulTuesday, November 23, 2021
BY REED MARKHAM
JAMAICANS have a lot to be thankful for.
According to Walt Disney, founder of the Disney empire: “The more you are in a state of gratitude the more you will attract things to be grateful for.”
The holiday season is a great time for teaching your children to have an attitude of gratitude.
First, teach your children what gratitude is. The word gratitude is derived from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness, or gratefulness. Gratitude involves being thankful for what we receive. Michelle Dahlstrom, author of Teaching Your Child About Gratitude, observed: “Gratitude is a powerful, life-changing force that is available to each of us. It involves many things: behaviours, emotions, memories, attitudes, and its presence can positively impact any situation. Gratitude has several components, the obvious first of which is thankfulness. When we receive a kind word, a generous gesture, a thoughtfully selected gift, we experience a sense of humility in the positive sense. Thankfulness can bring tears to our eyes, a depth of emotion beyond our words.”
Second, share with your child the value of developing gratitude. Dr Michael Miller, senior editor at Harvard Health Publishing, says, “We're learning that the simple act of giving thanks is not just good for the community, but may also be good for the brain and body.” Many research studies point out that gratitude is consistently associated with greater happiness in your life. Gratitude helps us to focus on the positive, bring into our minds great memories, develop resilience in a challenging world, develop stronger relationships, and manage adversity effectively. It's easy in today's world to notice the negative things happening around us. Developing gratitude will help your children seek out the positive.
The advantages of a grateful attitude include:
• feeling more satisfied with
• having a positive attitude
• being less materialistic
• experiencing less stress
• enjoying better physical
• sleeping soundly
• experiencing less fatigue
• having greater resiliency
• developing patience,
humility, and wisdom
Third, create a gratitude journal with your child. First, have him/her select a journal that they would enjoy using. A child's gratitude journal should be functional and fun. Make sure the journal has space for drawing pictures and writing. Encourage your child to write down thoughts or bullet points. You can help your child begin his/her journal by taking an inventory of gratitude experiences. For example, you might begin by sharing some early life memories of feeling grateful for your parents or family. Have your child list some of the people they are grateful for – teachers, friends, grandparents and the reasons why each person is listed. You could also ask him/her to develop a list of positive things about going to school – this is especially helpful when your child has a negative attitude about school and doing homework.
Fourth, share gratitude ideas. There are several ways to share gratitude ideas. One approach is to find an empty jar, fill the jar with several gratitude ideas, then have your child pick one to write about. This can be an activity for family night.
Here's a list of questions that you can ask to inspire gratitude ideas:
• What is something good that
happened to you today?
• What beach activity do you
• What are some of your
• What is something you
• Who smiled at you today?
• Who made you feel loved?
• What is your favourite toy?
• What is your favourite
• What is your favourite type
Fifth, enjoy working on the gratitude journal together. Parents are a child's first teacher. Children look to you as a role model. Be a positive example by working on your gratitude journal together. Set aside a special time to talk about what you are grateful for. Take the time to connect with your child.
Working with your children to develop a gratitude journal is a simple way to build their resilience in these challenging times. A gratitude journal is a great way to spend time together, and your efforts can lead to a happier household.
Thomas S Monson, author of Living the Good Life, concluded: “We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude.”