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6 Tips For Practicing Gratitude With Your Kids

 

A gratitude practice means taking time each day to think about and actively acknowledge the good in our lives. People who practice gratitude are happier, more positive, less stressed, and tend to connect more with other people. Our kids can benefit from a gratitude practice for the same reasons.

Here are six simple ways to co-create a gratitude practice with your kids.

  1. Make gratitude part of the routine. Whether it is on the way to school or every night at dinner, make it a point to take turns sharing 1–3 gratitudes for the day. Incorporating this into your bedtime routine works well: brush teeth, read a book, and take turns sharing something you are grateful for that day before tucking your kids into bed. It’s quick and easy to share out loud, however, it can also be fun to write your gratitudes down in a journal as a family keepsake.

  2. Pay attention to the good in your day and point it out. As you go throughout your day, make it a point to notice and appreciate the good and to say it out loud. “Wow, the moon is out during the day!” “I loved playing that game with you!” “I’m glad we got to visit Grandma today.” When you focus on the good throughout the day, it opens your kids up to noticing other good experiences they have throughout the day.

  3. Model heartfelt gratitude when you say thank you. Make it a point to be specific and genuine when you say thank you to your kids and to others. Sometimes saying thank you can become a reflex, more about manners than tapping into sincere gratitude. When you say thank you in a complete sentence, you get closer to that heart of appreciation. “Thank you for handing me my glasses.” “Thank you for teaching me to play the game.” “Thanks for that amazing hug!” If it feels awkward to speak your thank you in a complete sentence, another practice is to infuse warmth into your thank you and to make eye contact. When you model genuine gratitude, your kids will catch on.

  4. Teach your child the difference between wants vs. needs. Wants signify our desire for another cookie, more screen time, a puppy, a new toy. It is perfectly okay to have wants—everyone does! We can empathize with our kids’ desires while kindly and firmly saying no. At the same time, wants differ greatly from our primary humanneeds for survival (water, food, shelter, security) and connection (understanding, love, belonging). Recognizing this difference helps kids to understand and be grateful for the ways in which their vital needs are met.

  5. Make and give thank you cards. It’s a universal truth that there is something magical about giving and receiving cards. I know it. My five-year-old knows it. Buy colorful notecards with colorful envelopes and set them up somewhere prominent with pens and markers easily accessible. Write notes of love, appreciation and gratitude to your children, seal them in an envelope, and deliver them or hide them somewhere. Your kids will soon be doing the same for you. Even when the notes are mostly incomprehensible, they’ll warm your heart.

  6. Co-create a visual reminder. While we know the benefits of practicing gratitude, family life inevitably gets busy and our practice can slide. Having a visual reminder somewhere prominent can bring you back. You can hang up a gratitude poster on the wall, or you can set up a gratitude craftor thank you card stationin a prominent space where you and your kids will eventually go back to it.

Aside from improving everyone’s physical and psychological wellbeing, a family gratitude practice is a great opportunity to share and connect. Whichever of these practices feel right for you, remember to have fun with them!

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