During this time of year, we often hear the word gratitude. But what is gratitude? Gratitude is the act of pausing and reflecting on the good in life. Things we may not always appreciate like friends and family are especially important to recognize and be thankful for. Teaching gratitude at a young age provides benefits that can be gained throughout life.
What are the benefits of gratitude?
Gratitude is categorized as a positive emotion. And research shows that positive emotions are good for our bodies and minds. Not only is this applicable to children and teens, but to adults as well. Studies even show that benefits can be seen after just 2 weeks of gratitude practice and can last up to 6 months.
- Boosts our ability to learn.
- Encourages us to make good decisions.
- Increased self-esteem.
- Improved sleep.
- Higher levels of optimism and happiness.
- Keeps negative emotions in check. Those who practice gratitude often experience less stress and depression.
- Fewer physical problems.
- Improves relationships.
How to help children practice gratitude
Getting children to practice gratitude young sets them up to continue those habits as they grow older. Here are a few ways you can help them.
Start a gratitude jar
Write one thing you’re grateful for each day and put it into the gratitude jar. Make sure the jar is clear so you can see how much there is to be grateful for when times are tough.
Encourage kids to give back
There are many ways to give back. While volunteering and charity work are great options; spending time with family, helping a friend in need, or even sharing toys can be considered giving back.
Share daily gratitude at dinner
Since everyone can benefit from gratitude the whole family can be involved. Take turns at dinner each identifying one thing they are grateful for.
Write thank you notes together
Take the initiative on your own gratitude journey and include your children by writing notes to those you are grateful for with them.
Start a gratitude journal
Have kids who don’t like writing? Gratitude journals don’t have to be physical journals. They can be blogs, audio recordings, videos, and drawings.
Talk it out together
When your children show signs of stress, this could be the opportunity to share the power of gratitude. This can also be a great time to start a gratitude journey together and begin doing one of the above activities.
Gratitude is a powerful tool that can improve us physically and mentally. And teaching children gratitude habits early will have them gain those benefits early too. Dedicating time for gratitude each day can be simple and swift. And most importantly can bring us all more positivity and well-being.
Sources: Nemours, Mindful Little Minds, Parent, Health Start Foundation, Nationwide Children’s