"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend." -Melody Beattie
Why Choose Gratitude
Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is essential for children because gratitude is transformational. While commercials often highlight what it is a child doesn't have but should want, gratitude makes them realize that there's not a single thing more that they need.
Gratitude is more than just appreciating what we have, but not hungering for more. Being grateful causes a positivity domino effect. When a child starts realizing what they already have to be grateful for, they naturally find even more reasons to be grateful. Their heart feels full and overflows with abundance.
Studies have shown that gratitude has many incredible benefits. Some of which are it:
- Opens the door to more relationships.
- Improves physical health.
- Improves psychological health.
- Increases empathy while reducing aggression.
- Allows one to sleep better.
- Improves self-esteem.
- Increases mental strength.
- Increases patience.
- Eases depression.
- Provides a happiness that actually lasts.
Deep Gratitude for Kids
In thinking deeply about how gratitude can be more present in a child's daily life, I've created this list of activities that foster a profound sense of gratitude:
1. Awaken with a Grateful Heart.
When your child wakes up each day, ask them to take a deep breath in and out, and remind them that the breath is a gift. Ask your child to place their hand over their heart and feel it beating, and remind them that an active heart is a gift. Ask your child to flutter their eyelids and look around the room, and remind them that being able to see is a gift. Ask your child to give you a loving and warm hug, and remind them that being able to touch is a gift. Ask your child to do a nice big stretch, and remind them that being able to move is a gift.
2. Eating Breakfast with a Grateful Heart
When your child has breakfast, ask them to take a deep breath in and smell their food, and remind them that being able to smell is a gift. When your child takes a bite of their food ask them to chew it slowly and taste it, and remind them that being able to taste is a gift. When your child is done with eating, ask them if their belly is full, and remind them that having enough to eat is a gift.
3. Helping Another Person
Before your child goes to school for the day, ask them who they want to help today and how they would like to help them. It could be a classmate, friend at school, neighbor, family member, or someone they know that is dealing with a struggle. It could also be something as simple as holding a door, having a friend to sit with at lunch, helping with schoolwork, picking flowers, drawing a picture, or just smiling at when they notice a frown.
4. Complimenting Another Person
Encourage your child to authentically compliment another person. When they share something that they truly appreciate in another person it not only makes the compliment receiver feel good but also the compliment giver. Our positive words are sometimes the only ones another person will hear in a day and that is why intention is essential.
5. Gratitude Hunt
Make being grateful into a game. Give your child a number, and ask them to find that many reasons to be grateful throughout the day. It could be gratitude for a person, event, accomplishment, lesson, ability, thing or anything else they find. The great thing about this game is that the more a child plays, the more reasons they find being grateful. You may have asked for five reasons but they couldn't help but find ten.
6. Eating Dinner with a Grateful Heart
Family meals are a wonderful way to connect in such a special way. Allow each one of your family members an opportunity to share reasons they found to be grateful that day. This is a beautiful way to listen, learn and bond over the abundance the day provided. Even in the bad days, there is always something to be grateful for.
7. Drift to Sleep with a Grateful Heart
As you lay beside your little one before they drift off to sleep, let them know reasons why you are grateful for them. Authentically affirm how much you love them, why you are proud of them, wonderful qualities you see in them, how they touch your life and more.
8. Find the Positive
Help your child to find the positive in challenging situations. Sometimes the positive is just a lesson learned. When we teach our children that a bad moment doesn't have to become the definition of a bad day, they are able to be more resilient through difficulties.