Cultivating gratitude

I can’t believe that it’s been so long of COVID living!   And it's been since the beginning of COVID that I’ve been creating these free monthly theme-based calendars to provide ideas for you to boost your child’s emotional intelligence, support their social skills and reduce their anxiety.

November's theme is Gratitude, and how to cultivate appreciation and positive thinking with our children.

With everything going on in the world right now, this might seem difficult to do but it’s more important than ever!  Please take the time to download the calendar and practice with your child!  Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

For right now...I am going to ask you to do two things:

  1. Think about one thing that you are grateful for.
  2. Think about one person you are grateful for.

Now, how do you feel? 

There aren’t any magic bullets for happiness, but incorporating gratitude into your everyday lives can help kids find more joy and mental health.

Don’t just take it from me. There is research behind these words:

-According to a study in the Journal of School Psychology (2008),  they found that grateful children (ages 11-13) were happier and more optimistic.  They reported more satisfaction with their families, schools, friends, and themselves.

-Another study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies found that instilling gratitude in children at a young age (up to 5) was linked to happier kids.

As always, my mission is to help you find simple and practical ways to boost these skills in your everyday life!  Here are four simple ways to get started or pick from.  

  1. Model gratitude and appreciation:  Sometimes we might think thoughts such as, “That was nice of her to hold the door open for me” or “Wow, this dinner was good, I’m glad I didn’t have to cook it!” But do we remember to say those thoughts out loud?  I know I sure could be better at this!  Make it a habit to talk about the things and people for which you are grateful when you child is listening and noticing.
  2. Expressing Gratitude Together: Speaking of habits, I invite you to make a family tradition or ritual to state the things you are grateful for each day, either at the dinner table, family meeting, before bed or when first walking up.  We like to talk about what we are looking forward to each day in the morning and say “what went well” before going to bed.  At our family meeting we incorporate appreciations for each family member.
  3. Use Your Senses: Help your child use the five senses to notice and become more aware of the things in life that make him/her happy.  You can even turn it into a game and take turns finding things in the house or out in nature that they see, hear, smell, taste or touch that they are grateful for.  I know my heavy warm blanket makes me feel really cozy and secure at night! See the calendar for specific days to focus on one sense at a time.
  4. Silver Linings: Last but definitely not least, we can help our child look for the silver lining when there are difficult situations.  Can they think of something good that came of it?  Maybe a bright side?  For example, maybe the family was able to spend more time together with the COVID pandemic happening.  Maybe they were able to stay warm inside if the soccer game was cancelled.  For this suggestion, it’s important to validate their initial feelings of frustration, sadness or fear before discussing the good that might have come.  We don’t want to devalue their initial emotions.

For more suggestions on how to cultivate gratitude on a daily basis, purchase the full 12-month theme-based calendar here for only $11.99. It is packed with 365 ideas, tools and activities to be mindful and hold intention with your daily interactions with your child to help them listen, cope, care about others and engage socially so that they can develop critical social and emotional skills for friendship, school and life. Be sure to get your child involved, as they probably have some great ideas too. This can be a win-win because you will feel the benefits too.

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