As a parent, you make it a priority to teach your children so many important things.
Learning the ABCs, tying their own shoes, taking those training wheels off their bike–these are skills almost all of us learned growing up and they quickly became second nature.
Those life lessons take lots of consistent practice, and the same is true for other crucial skills like gratitude.
Because an attitude of gratitude doesn’t come naturally, it needs to be actively demonstrated in the home. Research shows a strong association between practicing gratitude and overall wellness for both physical and mental health.
Here are some ways you can model gratitude for your children:
● Use manners – Create a habit of saying “please” and “thank you”
● Be helpful – Get an elderly neighbor’s mail, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or donate to someone less fortunate
● Recognize remarkable moments – Don’t let the beauty and joys of life go unnoticed. Take time to appreciate and make mention of things like a beautiful day or a delicious meal
● Share positive affirmations – Tell others what you appreciate about them and encourage your children to give compliments as well
● Model optimism – Always look for something positive in every situation
● Give – Giving gifts to others allows children to witness gratitude in someone else and develops empathy
● Write thank yous/letters – Writing a note to thank someone is a powerful tool to help children express what/who they’re thankful for
To kickstart a spirit of thankfulness in your home, create a gratitude jar. This is a great activity to do with your kids heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.
How To Make A Gratitude Jar
1. Find a large jar or container
2. Let your kids decorate it for fall with painted leaves or pumpkin stickers (helping them change the decorations for each new month can be a great way to keep them excited about the jar)
3. Place the jar in a prominent spot in your home as a constant reminder to be thankful
4. Take a moment during dinner or before bed for the whole family to share something they are thankful for. Write it on a slip of paper and add it to the jar (a consistent time everyday helps establish a routine)
5. Encourage your kids to add to it whenever they are feeling grateful, there’s no need to limit gratitude to one thing per day
6. At the end of the month, read through all the gratitudes as a family to reflect on the incredible things you have to be thankful for