“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus, Greek Philosopher
As adults, we understand that when life is being kind to us we have a lot to be thankful for. This gratefulness helps us keep things in perspective and focus on the good things in our lives which in turn makes us feel good about ourselves. We realise the importance of gratitude and in turn may want to start encouraging children to be thankful as well.
However, encouraging children to be thankful can get tricky as it goes beyond saying ‘Thank you’. Research shows that gratitude is associated with increased well-being and predicts prosocial behaviour. It is said to impact their mental health for years to come.
In this article, we will cover:
A book by an American Psychologist, Robert A Emmons, titled The Little Book of Gratitude, does a great job of simplifying the different components of gratitude. It says that gratitude has two components at its core: affirmation and recognition. Thankfulness requires us to acknowledge the goodness that is outside us or goodness that has been brought to us by others as a result of doing something they did not have to do.
Writing a journal is one of the best ways of practising gratitude. Younger children can draw things or people to express their thankfulness. However, for older children, expressing gratitude via writing can become challenging. The book, The Little Book of Gratitude, by Robert Emmons, lists an activity that can help children affirm and recognise attributes of gratitude in their lives in an easy manner. Here are a few steps that will encourage children to be thankful:
Parents could also share this format with children to get them started.
“The other day, I felt glad when the person to whom you are grateful made the effort to describe the act of kindness that they performed selflessly. I know that, the name of the person could have listed other courses of action that they could have performed, instead of helping you, but chose to describe the act of kindness that they performed selflessly. This action explains how that act of kindness benefitted or affected you and made me write how this act of kindness made you feel. Thank you, the name of the person.”
Being thankful requires practice. Like any other good habit, it requires parents to be patient with children. You can also model gratefulness for your children to help them understand it further. Maintaining a gratitude journal with your children can help you turn this into a family ritual. It will help you to stay consistent for longer periods of time.
What do you do to encourage thankfulness in children? Have you tried this method before? What has been your experience so far? What are some other values that you are trying to teach your children? Let us know in the comments below or drop a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!
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