3 Simple Habits to Practice Gratitude with Kids
September 21st is World Gratitude Day! Finding ways to discover and celebrate the good things in our lives isn’t just something we should do – it actually helps us be happier. The more we practice gratitude, the happier we become. So how do we teach young kids about the world around us, and how to appreciate what we have?
No one is born grateful. It’s a learned concept that can be reinforced and practiced in many different ways all year long. With the holidays coming up, it’s a perfect time to learn the meaning behind the giving season. Here are 3 ways to add gratitude into your everyday routine.
1. Give Kids Their Own Tasks
Yes, it will take a million years to wipe up a single spill. And yes, you will want to take over and just do it yourself. Resist the urge! Giving kids a sense of control over their environment can help them realize that they have power in the world. Also, the more you step in and do things for them, the more they’ll come to expect it.
Try delegating regular tasks, like taking out the trash, or helping fold the laundry. When they start getting the hang of it, recognize their efforts and appreciate them out loud!
2. Describe Emotions
At its core, gratitude is a feeling. And for kids, feelings can be really overwhelming! Describing your own feelings (especially the physical characteristics of your emotions, like a fast heartbeat), no matter how small, can help kids identify and name their own feelings from a young age. When they fall, try saying something like, “I was scared when you fell, my heart was beating so fast! It’s beginning to slow down now that I know you are safe. I’m so happy you are ok!” You can also help them describe their own feelings: “You were scared at the top of the big slide, weren’t you?” When they get to know their own feelings, they can imagine how someone else feels – the beginnings of empathy.
Knowing how to describe feelings can also have the added bonus of helping kids process their emotions and get over tantrums more easily (win!).
3. Encourage Generosity
There are so many ways to be generous: donate old toys and clothes to charity, make cookies for your local fire station, draw a picture for a family member or teacher, or share your Little Passports package and activities with friends! Building moments where we give to others creates and cultivates an automatic instinct to give, instead of to take.
These three ways to cultivate gratitude in your family can be used all year long. With the holidays coming up, it’s another great opportunity to show what gratitude is all about.
All too often, Christmas morning becomes a feeding frenzy of gifts, tearing paper and instant gratification. Try opening gifts one family member at a time, taking turns to decide who plays Santa and who gets to receive. Put the emphasis on the activities of the day, like baking cookies or watching favorite movies. Take the gratitude up a notch by volunteering on Christmas Day at a public service organization like a soup kitchen or animal shelter.
What do you do to practice gratitude at home? Do you do anything special during the holidays? Let us know in the comments!