journal

Conscious Parenting – Children and Gratitude

Gratitude is an amazing thing. It does something inside of us, that very few things can do. Many times, parents wish their children would be more grateful.
Ask yourself: Is it about not giving your children everything? Is it about making them work for what they want? What about making sure they see what others do not have? Or, teaching them to share? These are some of the strategies I have seen parents use in order to teach gratitude.
As I was giving this some thought, the answer, in my opinion, became quite simple: the experience of feeling grateful is what creates gratitude.
Gratitude is about having a true and authentic experience of being grateful.
Here are three ideas that you can use with your children to nurture gratitude:
#1: In the morning, start your day with sharing what you are grateful for. It could be a good night sleep, sunshine, rain, friends we get to see, a favorite cartoon, our favorite teacher, the home we live in, food to eat, health, family, a pet, a game, a book, the weekend, sleeping in, etc. Each person can share 1-3 things to start creating the habit of looking for things to feel grateful for.
#2: At dinner, have everyone share what their gratitudes or appreciations are for the day. We do that every night in our home, and it is a great way to see what is important to your children, as well as to nurture gratitude in their hearts. They also get to see what happens in your day, and what is important to you as well. Again, it is about getting into the habit of looking for, and expressing, gratitude. What we focus on expands.
#3: At bedtime, invite your children to share three things they were grateful for today. You share too. If your children enjoy writing, offer for them to keep a gratitude journal. Writing things down (especially what you are grateful for) is very powerful.
Pick one of these activities and just make it fun. You also want to make it informal. Do not press your children for gratitudes; it defeats the whole purpose. And, feel free to give them ideas if they are struggling to think of something. New habits take practice. The habit of gratitude, when nurtured daily, grows pretty quickly. You are planting seeds and fertilizing the soil with consistency and love.
Enjoy creating a grateful family.