As a parent of 3 young children, one of the most important qualities that I hope they have, is for them to be grateful children. I have always hoped that from a young age they will appreciate all the good things they have. Which like most kids these days is a lot. We live in such a material world, children get so much. Whilst I love that I can provide for them It is important that they appreciate, are thankful and have gratitude for everything they are given.
I am lucky that all of my children are grateful and not at all spoiled or entitled (I mean of course they have their moments – they are kids!). Yet generally they appreciate and are thankful for everything we do for them. Here are some of the little things that we do, some on a daily basis to ensure that they continue to be a grateful child.
Ask Them What They’re Grateful For
At the end of the day when we are all sitting around the dinner table, we ask each of the family members to tell us 3 good things that has happened in their day. Some days this is really easy and we can reel off about 10 amazing things that have happened to us. However of course we all have bad days and my children, especially my older kids can struggle 3 good things. However I encourage them to think hard because every day has a silver lining. Good things happen every day if we look closely. You had your favourite teacher in school, you sat next to your best friend at lunch, the sun was shining. I try to encourage my children to have a sense of gratitude of even the smallest of things.
Introduce a Gratitude Journal
My eldest child can get a little negative at times. She can some days focus on the bad stuff more that the good stuff. Introducing a gratitude journal is a great way to change a negative mindset into a positive one. I can notice the difference in her mental health when she is completing her gratitude journal each evening, she is much happier and has such a better positive attitude. We complete the gratitude diary every evening which seems the perfect time to reflect on the day. The journal we use is the Happy Self Journal which is full of positive quotes and gratitude activities.
Encourage Displays of Gratitude
I have started to encourage my children to display acts of gratitude. Simple ways like thank you cards when they receive birthday gifts from friends, teachers gift at the end of term. We don’t do this all of time but it is something I am trying to make a conscious effort with.
Try not to complain about things in front of your child, even if it’s something simple like the traffic or the weather, because they will adopt a similar outlook. I always to try to stay as positive as possible about everything, of course we all have tough times and some days it is a struggle to stay positive and thankful.
However the little positive things can make a difference. For example this time of year when the weather is really bad instead of moaning about it I try to focus on the good and suggest a cosy day in watching films or baking cakes. It’s better to try and put a positive spin on negative situations so that your child can learn to look for the good in life. My younger kids are really good at this and it is lovely to hear them be so positive and grateful for such simple things.
Limit Screen Time
You may ask what screen time has to do with raising a grateful child but honestly it can make such a difference. We are all guilty of letting our child have too much screen time. It is just way of life these days as there is so much to do, work, household chores. Daily life is busy.
Yet my youngest child is in such a bad mood after spending time on his iPad. He is grumpy and hard work and very ungrateful. I find if I spend some quality time with him on a regular basis it has such a positive impact on him. He loves it and is so thankful – he actually says ‘Thank you Mummy’. I know it is not always possible but I try to limit screen time to 1 hour each day.
If I am busy and don’t have time to play with him I get colouring out for him or some toys out for him to play, a puzzle or some building bricks. The best thing is he really appreciates me doing this and plays happily. His mood is better and he has good manners. Try to limit screen time if you can and you will notice an increase in your children’s gratitude almost instantly.
Look after your Child’s Physical Health
I think the whole family will agree that you feel better after exercise. It is a scientific fact that physical activity is a great way to keep you physically healthy as well as good for your mental wellbeing. Just adding a little bit of exercise to your daily routine will make such a difference to your mind set and gratitude. I remember once Meme had a really bad day in School. She was crying and sad. She then went to her weekly 30 minute dance class. Afterwards she was like a different child. Happy and positive. The dance class made such a difference. If you want a happy grateful child, exercise definitely one of the best ways to get one.