It’s not just adults who can practise gratitude. Yesterday, my dear friend Jen received her copies of the Everyday Gratitude Diary. She had a chat to her boys (7 and 5 years old) about what they’re grateful for:
Jen said: “disappointed to miss 5yo gem: I’m saying thank you for my eyeball. (Why?) because I use it to look at things. (Wasn’t recording)”. I love those boys!
If you have kids, do you talk about what they’re grateful for with them? Not being a parent myself, I don’t have any immediate wisdom on the practise, but even from my own observations it’s not hard to see that it’s a good thing to do. As they develop their own sense of self, children relate everything to themselves and their needs (most of which are catered to by their parents), so it is easy for them to have a fairly self-centered view of the world, isn’t it? Gently steering them in the direction of thankfulness will help them to think more about the people and the world outside of their own bubble.
This article from GreaterGood shows that, unsurprisingly perhaps, a focus on gratitude in children led “to greater social support and protection from stress and depression over time”. The author says:
Knowing the benefits that practicing gratitude bestows on kids begs the question: How can we foster more gratitude in children? From our experience as researchers and as parents ourselves, we believe that gratitude is born of a loving connection and grows from a loving connection. When parents tune into an infant’s needs and curiosities and satisfy the infant patiently with love, they’re planting the seeds for gratitude to grow.
Check the article out if you’re interested on their seven ways to develop a grateful outlook in your kids.
This led me to think about how families could use the Everyday Gratitude Diary together. You could make it part of your everyday routine; maybe sitting together at the dinner table you could each share what you’re grateful for that day and write it down in the diary. Or perhaps you could do it as a bedtime ritual? How wonderful to have a book full of things your whole family was grateful for! I think it would be immensely encouraging to flip through.
Does that all sound too idyllic and in practise life in your home is much more topsy-turvy than that? If you have any ideas on how you could practise gratitude with your kids, pop them in the comments, I’d love to hear them.