Grateful adults are happier, more optimistic, have better social connections, and are more satisfied in all areas of their lives. The same applies to children, who can be inspired to make gratitude a way of life through a number of conscious parenting attitudes and activities.
Teaching your kids to say 'thank you' is very different from instilling a true sense of gratitude in them. While good manners are of course important, gratitude is a mindset, attitude and lifestyle rather than a rote response. Try some of these simple practices to fill your home with gratitude.
Take a moment before dinner for everyone at the table to share three things that they're grateful for. Make these as specific as possible to the day that's just passed. You want the little ones to come up with new and delightful ideas each day.
GRATITUDE HOT POTATO
Sit in a circle with a ball you call a 'hot potato'. Throw this ball around between everyone in the circle, with each person who catches it saying what he or she is grateful for. As it is a 'hot potato', it can't be held for very long - so you'll have to be quick at coming up with things to be grateful for. If somebody repeats something that has already been said or holds the ball for too long, that person is out of the game.
Get the kids to decorate the cover of a beautiful journal or notebook with pictures of things that make them happy. This will become their special gratitude journal, and you can encourage them to write down three things they're grateful for before they go to sleep each night. If they're not yet old enough to write or are more visually inspired, they can tear pictures out of old magazines or newspapers and paste them in the journal.
While sitting in the car on the way to work, start a game of gratitude ping-pong by saying one thing you're grateful for and prompting your child to then take a turn to do the same. Continue back and forth in this way, making sure that you don't repeat each other's answers.
Hang a blackboard up in your living room, kitchen or child's room. Take some time each day to write or draw everything you're grateful for. When the board is full, make a ritual of reminiscing over everything that's been written or drawn, and clear it for the next items. If you'd like to have keepsakes of these special moments, you can always use a blank piece of cardboard and keep a collection of gratitude posters to enjoy on a day when you need reminding of all the good in your life. You could also photograph the board and keep it for reference.
Put a beautiful jar on the kitchen counter and leave a pad of brightly coloured paper and a pen next to it. Let anyone in the family who feels grateful or inspired write or draw something on the paper, fold it up and pop it into the jar at any time. Once the jar is full, have fun reading the notes and guessing who contributed each of them.
Leave sticky notes and a pen in an accessible spot in the house. Encourage the little ones to use them to thank anyone in the family who has done or said something that they appreciate, and leave them around the house as little surprise messages.
GRATITUDE PROMPTS FOR KIDS
*Someone you love
*Someone who helps you
*Someone you hang out with
*Something you love to do
*Something that makes you laugh
*Something that tastes yum
*Somewhere you like to go
*Something you are good at
*Something you are proud of
*Something you learnt
*Something you liked about today
*Something you look forward to
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