Gratitude is one of the most important positive emotions that you can teach your child. It teaches them to focus on the good things that are happening in their lives, and it helps to promote empathy. It’s about taking time to pause in busy days to reflect and appreciate the things that are often taken for granted: having a warm and dry home, food at meal times, clothes to wear, friends and family.
Gratitude doesn’t just make you feel good for that moment, it can make a big impact on life.
- Positive emotions increase your ability to learn and make good decisions.
- Gratitude turns around negative emotions and behaviours such as complaining, jealousy and resentment.
- Gratitude feeds other positive emotions such as happiness and joy.
- Gratitude boosts relationships as feelings of appreciation, respect, trust and love are expressed.
How to teach your child gratitude
Children are like sponges: they soak up the information that you give them and the behaviours that you, yourself, display. With practice and encouragement, your child will soon incorporate gratitude into their daily lives.
- Say Thank You
Thank you are two small words that can make a person feel happy. If your child does something for you, say thank you. Appreciate their actions and words. Can you think back to your childhood and being made to write thank you letters? It seems to be a dying tradition, but writing thank you letters is a great way for your child to learn about gratitude.
For younger children who have not yet mastered letter writing, a great idea is to make their own thank you cards. Fold a piece of A4 into half, and then quarter, and let your child draw the design on the card. They can draw/scribble/sign the inside of the card before you unfold it and photocopy the needed number on your home printer. You can order inexpensive printer ink online at Cartridge Shop so that the colours are fresh and appealing. You can then fold up the cards and deliver them.
- Random Acts of Kindness
Children often share a toy or speak kindly to their friends and family. Should you notice that your child is being kind, comment on it! Communicate how much you value their kindness. You are positively reinforcing that this behaviour is worth repeating. Similarly, if you have an opportunity to do a random act of kindness, do it too – children replicate the behaviours that they witness and will benefit from witnessing such a positive experience.
- Spend Time in Nature
Spending time in the great outdoors as a family, allows you to spend precious time together, but it is also an opportunity to slow down, become more mindful and notice the environment without distraction. Reflecting on the natural world makes you appreciate the beauty that is all around us and that you are part of something much bigger than self.
By instilling mindfulness and gratitude from a young age, you are giving your child life skills that they will carry with them through to adulthood. Your child’s ability to be grateful will make a significant impact on their life.
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