Gratitude is the physical act of noticing for the good in each day and being thankful for what we have. It is a positive emotion we can teach our kids. Practicing gratitude can also foster other positive emotions such as feeling happy, lucky, blessed, fortunate. It can help improve self esteem, strengthen connections and social relationships, and builds purpose in your, and your kids lives.
4 COMPONENTS OF GRATITUDE:
According to The Raising Grateful Children Project at UNC Chapel Hill, gratitude has four parts: noticing, thinking, feeling, doing. Lets take a closer look at these different components.
Recognizing the things you have to be grateful for – bit or small, internal and external is the first step to embodying the gratitude attitude. It is important to remember that it is not just about noticing what you have, but also noticing what you possess internally; what makes you YOU. So turn on your senses, be present and start noticing the multitude of things to be grateful for.
Once you start noticing, you won’t be able to stop – the colorful flowers, the warm shower and lifesaving cup of coffee. The friends, family and support system you have, and on and on and on. However, it is important to not just notice, but then reflect and start thinking about the WHY and the HOW. Why have you been given those things? Why do you deserve those things? How have you accomplished those milestones?
As you start noticing and thinking, you will start feeling. What are the emotions you experience as a result of the things you’ve been given? Do you feel blessed? fortunate? grateful? How does that change how you perceive the mess your kids made at the breakfast table or the mud your dog dragged in from outside? Focusing on these feelings can reframe how we approach the events we encounter each and every day.
The final component of truly possessing an attitude of gratitude is by doing. How can you express appreciation for what you are grateful for? How can you use words or actions to communicate your gratefulness? It does not need to be big or grand gestures, but a smile, a helping hand, a hug, or words of affirmation are all simple ways to act on your gratitude attitude and spread positivity.
If you want to learn more about how practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on your life, check out our post HERE.
But let’s be serious, if you are reading this post, you most likely want quantifable actions that items that you can implement right here and right now. Well, we have you covered…Here are some of our favorite ways to encourage the gratitude attitude with your kids:
GRATITUDE IN ACTION:
Say Thank you:
It is simple, but by saying thank you, you are noticing an act that someone has done for you. You are validating their actions and affirming you appreciate them. This is a simple act we can do several times a day. Ensure that you are encouraging your children to say thank you on a regular basis brings awareness to how others actions/reactions impact their physical and mental being.
Positive Self Talk:
Doing the work to accept who you are and who you want to be is imperative to your self esteem and relationship with yourself. Every morning, look at yourself in the mirror and thank your body for what it can provide you. Can you tell yourself 3 things that you love about yourself? Do this with your kids to start teaching them that self love is important. Click HERE for a free handout with positive affirmations for you and your kids.
Journaling provides a way to notice, think, and feel some of the things each day that you can be grateful for. Take 5 minutes at the end of the day to journal with a focus on the positive moments in the day. You can do this individually or collaboratively with your children – what do your children notice that you did not?
Sitting down as a family for a meal is a simple concept that often gets forgotten because of the hustle and bustle of each day. However, taking 20 minutes to sit and eat as a family can strengthen connection and communication. It can provide an environment to talk about what you are grateful for and how your day went. Can every person at the table say one think they noticed that day, one thing they are grateful for, and one thing they want to work on tomorrow? How can incorporating this into your routine strengthen your gratitude attitude.
Family Game Night:
Maybe it is only once or twice a month, but can you find time to setup a game or activity night with your family? Playing games, having conversations, and spending quality time together is a way to build connection and strengthen family dynamics. Check out our post about setting up and ‘therapizing’ (virtual) game nights HERE.
Take 5 minutes in the morning and/or evening to stop and just be – what do you notice? What do you feel? This can allow you to be present and push out the negativity and chaos our daily life can bring. Yoga and meditation are two common ways to practice mindfulness – but there are a variety of other means as well. Cosmic Kids Yoga is a YouTube channel that teaches yoga, mindfulness and relaxation for kids. Their videos take your child on an interactive adventure which builds strength, balance, and confidence. The best part is that each video has a different theme so you can center morning yoga around your child’s interests. Check out their channel HERE.
Talk about how you feel:
During your day, can you state the emotion you are feeling? Having 5 minutes to drink my coffee makes me feel happy and energized. By stating these emotions out loud it can bring them to fruition.
Tell others what you appreciate about them:
Kids and adults alike want validation, that is just human psychology. So taking a moment to notice what someone has done and acknowledging it can go so far. You can tell them what internal qualities you appreciate or what physical actions they have done that have made you feel grateful. Can you add this into your daily practice with your peers and especially your kids. Incorporating this language and interaction will help your children embody this attitude as well.
Ultimately, practicing the gratitude attitude may be something that you need to consciously work on at the beginning. But the more focus and energy you put into it, the more natural and automatic it becomes. Making simple changes to your child’s daily routine can help him/her reframe his/her mindset and promote growth, development, and inspiration. Remember, not every day is a good day, but every day has good in it.
If you want to keep learning, check out our post on the Growth Mindset HERE.
Hi, I am an occupational therapist at South Shore Therapies. I specialize in pediatirc brain injury and stroke, but love working with all families to help kids reach their optimal potential. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future.