Thanksgiving is a time when the topic of gratitude tends to surface. We are encouraged to give to those in need and in doing so it helps us to feel a sense of connection to others while also helping us recognize all that we have in our own lives. We try and appreciate all that we have and open our hearts to the people around us.
If you are not familiar with the benefits of gratitude, let me enlighten you! The positive benefits of gratitude are endless! Research has shown that gratitude can help you achieve your goals, help you feel more optimistic, when practiced regularly it can increase your level of happiness and decrease depressive symptoms. Additionally it has also been shown to boost your romantic relationship as well as improve your work environment!
That’s great news for adults but what about our kids? It turns out that when kids practice gratitude they have positive outcomes too! According to research, when kids practice regular gratitude it can increase their positive emotions and optimism, decrease their negative emotions and physical symptoms and makes them feel more satisfied with life in general!
1. Keep a family gratitude journal: Take a minute or two each day and have everyone share something that they are thankful for. Writing it down actually makes a huge difference in helping kids develop a positive mindset. Help little ones with suggestions – a favorite toy, spending time with grandma or grandpa, getting a ride to school instead of having to take the bus! Help them to steer away of just material focused items.
2. Be a grateful parent: As always, practice what you preach! Take time to tell your kids what you love about them. Maybe it’s their smile, their laugh, their ability to be flexible and understanding or their ability to take risks – whatever it is when you let them know they will feel good about themselves.
3. Teach them the value of money and hard work: It’s important for kids to learn the value of money and hard work. They should always help earn their keep. When they pitch in they gain patience in learning how to save, restraint in not buying something else they want instead, and encourages them to appreciate what they have.
4. Write thank-you notes: Help kids to recognize all of the ways in which people in their lives help them. Send a thank you note to a teacher who was supportive throughout the year, a soccer coach, a babysitter, a bus driver or aunt or uncle. Through this you are teaching your kids to appreciate what they have, what others do for them, and the positive benefits of recognizing others for their generosity.
5. Encourage them to give back: As adults we know how it feels to help someone out but kids might not. Help them figure out some things that they can do to help others. Maybe they can rake leaves, take an elderly neighbors dog for a walk, donate an old toy to a child in need or bake something special for a sick friend. With the help of their parents kids can also make silly videos on a phone and send it to a family member or friend who had a tough day. The more you can help them utilize their own creativity, talents and skills to pay it forward the better!
Written by Kelly DiBenedetto, LMHC
Boston Post Adoption Resources