Feeling grateful for what we have in life can help us feel more content and positive, rather than spending our time dwelling on what we lack or comparing ourselves negatively to others. Gratitude is a practise though and one we have to hone to make a habit. Children learn a lot from watching how their parents and caregivers approach people and situations, so gratitude has to be taught. If you want to explore gratitude with your child, here’s some tips from a junior school in Surrey.
Find the silver linings
Encourage your child to identify the positives in any challenging situations, and make sure they see you doing the same when you experience difficulties. Doing this will help them see that most situations are not catastrophic and can be worked through, and they’ll realize they have a lot to be thankful for regardless of any obstacles they face. This can have the knock-on effect of increasing confidence levels when it comes to facing future challenges.
Make it a habit
Make gratitude a regular family practise by prompting your child to list three things they’re grateful for at the end of each day, or by going round the table at dinnertime and identifying some great things that have happened that day (even if there were some challenges as well). You could also buy your child a gratitude journal to write in regularly so they get into the habit of finding the positives in their life and reflecting on the good things they have.
Show appreciation toward others
Make sure your child understands the importance of thanking people who have done something kind for them, and reciprocating when possible. You could suggest they write a thank you note to their teacher at the end of term or just to someone they appreciate. Doing something kind like this will make them feel good, and in the process they’ll learn how nice it feels to be appreciated in return.
Encourage intrinsic goals
Try to steer your child away from pursuing extrinsic and materialistic rewards which often don’t lead to the same sense of satisfaction as achieving an intrinsic, value-based goal. Encourage them to savour their accomplishments, rather than moving on straight away to the next goal; this will prevent them from feeling continually dissatisfied and wanting more and more without appreciating what they’ve already got.
Gratitude has to be practised, so making it a regular habit in your family will help your child master it and reflect positively on their life and the things in it.
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