How appropriate that Amy Campbell, counselor at the Rawson Saunders School for Dyslexia writes about gratitude. As my husband and I clean up after the second flood in two years, we benefit from remembering to be grateful. Thank you, Amy.
In her book The Gifts of Imperfection, researcher and author Brene’ Brown wrote, “Without exception, every joyful person I’ve interviewed actively practiced gratitude and attributed their joyfulness to their practices of gratitude.” Various researchers have consistently indicated that gratitude can be deliberately cultivated in childhood (and adulthood!) and can increase overall feelings of well-being and happiness. Here are a few simple ideas about how to intentionally practice gratitude with our children:
Gratitude Discussions. Have intentional talks about the things that you are grateful for in daily life and the “bigger picture” things in your life. This could be a daily discussion throughout the day, when your child gets home from school, at the dinner table, or when they go to bed at night. Ask children to come up with their own ways that they may incorporate more gratitude in their lives.
Write a Letter or Make a Video of Gratitude. Write a specific and genuine letter of gratitude to your child and another person. Read both letters to your child. Then, encourage your child to think of a teacher, coach, friend, or mentor who made/makes a difference in their life. They can write a letter to this person telling them specifically what they are grateful for and how the person makes them feel.
Keep a Gratitude Journal, Spreadsheet, or Jar. I keep a simple spreadsheet, which I add to daily, of things that I am grateful for. Additionally, I made gratitude jars for students to submit things that they were grateful for. They loved seeing each jar accumulate more and more things. Also, on days that they were feeling discouraged, they had written reminders of things that they could be thankful for.
Expressing Thankfulness for the Difficult Stuff Too. Model and discuss how mistakes and challenges have had a positive impact on your life. Discuss lessons that you learned, what you know about yourself because of them, and how hardships have served you.