Teaching Kids About Gratitude

Time after time, I flip on the t.v. and see people suffering after natural disasters. Everything they had is gone. Their houses, their clothes and just about all of their belongings got swept away by a flood, hurricane or tornado. It's heartbreaking and always so difficult to explain to my kids. But, it's another reminder, that we need to look at the big picture and be grateful for what really matters.

Last winter, I wrote about How to Teach Kids to be Grateful. The reason I think this is so important is that I don't want my kids to grow up feeling entitled. I want them to appreciate the gifts, both big and small, that come their way.  It's important to realize that life isn't easy, but no matter what, we need to try and stay positive.

After doing some research on the topic, I realized that it's pretty easy to help our kids become more grateful. The simplest way I found to teach my kids about gratitude is by talking about 3 Good Things before we go to bed. It's really simple: every night, when my kids are laying in bed, I ask them to tell me 3 things that they are grateful for. It can be anything they want. If they can only think of 1 or 2 things, that's fine too.  Hearing what they are grateful helps me know that they are on the right track.

There is actually quite a bit of research that shows the positive effects of this simple routine. Studies reveal those who continue this exercise for one week straight can increase their happiness and decrease depressive symptoms for up to a six-month period.* Doing this with my kids has definitely made me a happier person, and I think it helps to keep them grounded as well. 

Ultimately, I want them to know that there is much more to life that "stuff" and it doesn't matter what someone else has. There are people with much more than us and there are people with much less than us as well. Ultimately, we need to be grateful for the more important things in our life like our heath, a roof over our head, family and friends. The other "stuff" we have is just a bonus.

Want a more in depth way to teach kids about gratitude?

Researchers Jeffrey Froh, Katherine Henderson, and colleagues have developed a gratitude curriculum for kids based on Froh’s work studying gratitude in schools.  See their gratitude lesson plans here.

Thanks to Mari from Inspired by Familia for organizing The 21 Days of Gratitude Challenge.

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21 Days of Gratitude for Families

Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Are you grateful? 

Let's be honest.  There are some wacky people in this world.  There's no way to completely avoid negativity, but, that makes me even more grateful for the kind and loving people in my life. 

I'm very grateful for my family who continually show unconditional love. There is something very warm and reassuring knowing that they are there for me.

I'm grateful for my friends who just 'get it'. We have similar expectations for our children and when we get together, everything just falls into place. When it comes to parenting, we're on the same page and that makes our time together so special.  

I value the teachers who I entrust to take care of and educate my kids.

I appreciate the people I work with. They are a big reason that I love what I do.

Those are some of the people that I am grateful for and, personally, I'm ready for the excessive amount of Thanks leading up to Thanksgiving. These relationships are truly priceless to me and saying "thank you" is important.

I've seen some snarky comments about the over abundance of 'thanks' during November, and I feel sorry for anyone who feels like that. Life can get complicated. Let's celebrate what we're thankful for year round and if it gets a little excessive in November, so be it!

This month, I'm working on a project with some other bloggers called 21 Days of Gratitude and I want you to join us. Each day a blogger will share something special. Maybe a quote, an activity, or their thoughts that will help us cultivate a heart of gratitude with our families.

These are the wonderful moms joining in the 21 Days of Gratitude project: 

Inspired by FamiliaUpside Down HomeschoolingStill Playing School,  Makeovers and MotherhoodP is for PreschoolerThe Educators’ Spin On It,  Toddler Approved!,  The Connection We ShareMama Pea Pod,  Mum in the MadhouseMama Miss,  Plain Vanilla Mom,  Tips from a Typical Mom,  Learning with Mouse,  Preschool Powol Packets,  Kids Yoga Stories,  Dirt and Boogers,  Local Fun for Kids,  Positive Parenting Connection,  Kitchen Counter ChroniclesThe Good Long Road,Bits of PositivityJDaniel 4′s MomThe Eyes of A Boy

The schedule is here and all of the info for you to join in.

How to Teach Kids To Be Grateful

Many nights when I'm putting my kids to sleep, I ask them to tell me 3 things they are grateful for.  It's a moment to focus on our happy moments and the little things in life that really matter.  We don't remember to do this every night, but when we do, it's always very special. If my sons are ever reluctant to share, I'll go first and tell them what I'm grateful for, then, they usually quickly chime in with their own answers. It's such a nice way to end the day and it helps me recognize the things in their life that are really important to them.

There is actually quite a bit of research that shows the positive effects of this simple routine. Renee Jain, a certified coach of positive psychology, says "One of the most well-known practices uncovered from this research is known as the Three Blessings exercise.

Each night before going to bed you write down three good things (ordinary or extraordinary) that happened to you during the day. Studies reveal those who continue this exercise for one week straight can increase their happiness and decrease depressive symptoms for up to a six-month period." (source)

How do you teach your children to be grateful? 

Check out this article on Gratitude is Good Attitude: Teach your children to be grateful and they will lead happier lives

Do you do anything to practice gratitude with your children?