It has been found that gratitude in children from the age of 5 years old is linked to happiness. This suggests that instilling gratitude in your children can help them to grow up to be more positive.
Children who grow up grateful tend to be more optimistic and positive as they move into adolescence. As they continue to grow, studies have found that those that are grateful tend to be more satisfied in their lives and are less likely to feel depressed.
Gratitude can be linked to almost everything. From enhanced psychological wellbeing, to improved physical and social wellbeing. In general, when people are more grateful, they sleep better, and are better able to forgive and have patience.
There are a lot of reasons to encourage gratitude in your child. With gratitude, comes positivity and a better outlook on life. If you’re looking for ways you can encourage your child to be more grateful and positive, here are 8 tips to help:
1. Teach Them Manners:
Encouraging your child to use manners regularly is the first step to gratitude. This can help children to identify when it’s important to be grateful. Initially, it may seem that your child is not being genuine when they use manners, particularly if you have had to prompt them, however this is a learning tool to begin the process of gratitude.
Don’t forget to praise your child regularly for using their manners as this will reinforce the importance of demonstrating gratitude.
2. Question Their Gratitude:
Once your child has been using their manners for a while, it’s time to bring them back to why they are using manners. Start having discussions around what it means to be thankful. This will help them to realise why we use manners and gain a deeper understanding of why gratitude is important.
It’s important that your child learns how to notice the things to be grateful for and to think about why they’ve been given things. They can then start to observe the emotions they experience when they are given something, and then how to express their gratitude for it.
3. Be Kind:
We can all learn to be kinder to others and this can start at home. Have a family discussion on ways you can be kinder to each other and to others and come up with one act of kindness each week that each of you can do. This can be helping with chores, mowing the neighbour’s yard, or even lending a toy to a friend. It doesn’t have to be extreme. A simple thank you letter is enough and those that are on the receiving end will certainly be grateful.
4. Model It:
Children learn gratefulness from their parents. From a young age they hear and see family behaviours and if parents aren’t grateful, then most likely your child will not learn gratitude either.
It’s important to model the behaviour you want to see in your child. To model gratitude, make sure you consistently use your manners everywhere you go. Talk about gratitude with your family. This can be at the dinner table where you each say something you’re grateful for. Allowing your child sees that you express gratitude to others often is also important. A simple hug or thank you note is enough and this will teach them to do the same as they mature.
5. Be Mindful:
Increased gratitude is a direct result of practicing mindfulness regularly. By paying more attention to our thought process, we can block out the negative self-talk and appreciate things in life more. There are a range of quality games and activities that can help your child to become more mindful such as board games, colouring in and even card games.
6. Make Gratitude Part of the Routine:
For a child to express gratitude often, it’s important to make it part of their routine. Why not start a gratitude habit in your home. This will not only benefit your child, but the whole family.
At dinner everyone can take turns telling everyone something they are grateful for. This can also be done at bedtimes. Also, at the start of every week, you can have a family discussion around how each of you will express gratitude during the week. Eventually gratitude will become spontaneous, but while your child is learning, it’s important to make it a routine or habit to ensure gratitude is expressed frequently.
7. Look for the Positives:
Something good can always come from something ‘bad’. This doesn’t mean that you don’t validate their feelings. But, for example, if something was cancelled that they were looking forward to, talking about what you can do instead can sometimes turn a disappointing situation into a positive one. When something has upset them, it’s important to validate their emotions initially before offering an alternative. Ask your child questions to help them discover ways they can turn a tough situation around. Make sure you give it some time before asking these questions if the tough situation is something your child needs to process first.
8. Family Gratitude Jar:
A gratitude jar is a great way to get the whole family involved in being more grateful. At the end of every week, empty out the gratitude jar and read out the grateful messages your family has placed in the jar over the week. Make sure everyone is listening and when something nice has been said about them, ensure they respond with gratitude.
By making gratitude a priority in your home, it will begin to reflect in your children and in other members of your family. There may be times when your child may seem ungrateful about something, but it’s important to be kind and have patience with them. They are learning this new trait too and none of us are perfect. Use the moment to reflect on the situation and discuss ways that you can be more grateful next time. Being consistent is key, and eventually you will both notice the positive changes that gratitude can bring to your life.