Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to ask children why they are grateful. So why not practice the art of appreciation once the turkey is gone...and all year long?
Instilling grateful feelings now benefits your child for a lifetime. Research shows that children who learn the art of appreciation:
are more optimistic,
have negative emotions less often,
and are more likely to demonstrate grateful behavior.
While these outcomes sound ideal, it's important to keep in mind that gratitude does not usually come naturally to children.
“No one is born grateful...Recognizing that someone has gone out of the way for you is not a natural behavior for children -- it’s learned.”
So how can we help children adopt gratitude as a regular practice?
Here are three ways:
1. Play the Gratitude Game: One of our parents, Alice Shikina, plays the “gratitude game” with her children on a daily basis. The gratitude game is simple. Each family member states at least one thing that they are grateful for on that day.
2. Keep a Gratitude Photojournal: Have children take pictures of things for which they are grateful. Organize the photos in a digital folder and update it regularly. If your children are having a bad day, they can watch a slideshow of the things they love so they are reminded of what makes them thankful.
3. Create a Thankful Tablecloth: Get fabric pens and a piece of fabric big enough for your dinner table. Before serving dinner, have each person write or draw the things for which they are grateful. Periodically switch out your normal tablecloth for your thankful tablecloth to bring back those warm, grateful feelings.
Through these simple gratitude practices, you help your children build healthy social and emotional skills that prepare them for a well-balanced adulthood.
And remember, grateful kids are happy kids.
We would love to share with you how our teachers cultivate grateful kids in the classroom as well. Stop by at our next info session.