Grateful, Thankful, Appreciation, and Gratitude

I am grateful for inspiration in the form of young children’s conversations. 

As I was observing in a classroom this morning, a child was discussing being grateful with his teacher. I just overheard pieces of the conversation, but could tell that the child was just beginning to understand that word and what it meant.

Of course, being grateful is something that is often talked about at this time of year. Many of us introduce our children to this idea around the holidays, whether we call it being grateful or being thankful or something else.

Yet, gratitude is something that we can practice and teach year round. There have been many recent studies that have shown the benefits of gratitude such as helping to build relationships, improving physical and mental health, and building resilience (check out this article if you want to know more).

Here are 6 tips for building gratitude in children courtesy of the Devereux Center for Resilient Children.

1.      Model gratitude for children. Children want to be just like their parents. They imitate, emulate and say and do the things they see their parents do. If parents engage in gratitude, children will follow suit.

2.      Enlist the child’s help. Have children complete regular chores or tasks. This will teach them the value of hard work and they will appreciate when others do things for them.

3.      Discuss gratitude with your child. Make gratitude a daily part of conversation. It will help gratitude become a habit and increase the child’s positive outlook and optimism.

4.      Build on the child’s strengths to practice gratitude. Use the child’s strengths and interests in building the gratitude muscle. This will help them learn and practice this skill in an area of comfort and competence.

5.      Have children perform acts of kindness. Teach children to write thank-you cards and to help others, such as helping neighbors carry groceries or rake their leaves, with no expectation of payment or compensation.

6.      Be patient while the child is learning. As stated previously, gratitude is a learned skill and must be built. If this is a new skill, it may take some time to change the old way of thinking.

Post by Jessica Sims