As parents and educators we carry the responsibility of nourishing our children’s personalities and providing them with tools allowing them to develop new skills and qualities to navigate the world, no matter the family’s financial or social status.
Teaching kids to be thankful for material possessions is just as important as giving appreciation to the family and friends that fill our lives with joy and happiness. Forging bonds with our loved ones teaches us the notions of help, care and gratitude. It is through the expression of emotions and feelings that we can teach children to be thankful, hence acknowledging and recognizing the value of the environment surrounding them.
It is important to integrate several daily activities, routines and transitions targeting gratitude and thankfulness in order to nurture this quality in younger children. Simple gestures of everyday’s life can be incorporated to strengthen kids’ awareness and power up positive thinking to improve their mood.
- Enforce the use of appreciative words like : Thank you and you’re welcome, please and with pleasure…
- Learn to say “Thank You” in different languages: Danke, Gracias, Obrigado…
- Learn to say “Thank You” in sign language
- Ask your children for help with random acts around the house and don’t forget to show appreciation
- Read books about gratitude
- Help a younger sibling, a friend or neighbour and encourage mindfulness
- Hold a daily gratitude jar and ask your child to write down what made them the happiest, everyday
- Review daily pictures that you captured of your child’s happiest moments and make a collage of what they are most grateful for.
And if you are looking for different levels of difficulty yet targeted activities focused on the social and affective development sphere while combining fine and general motor skills, try the Tree of Gratitude.
- Paper or cardboard of different colours
- Scissors and Glue
- Paint or Markers
You may choose the size of the project depending on the energy of your child. A large tree or on a simple sheet, while having fun painting or colouring and cutting up leaves shapes.
Open the conversation by asking what makes your kid happy and allow them to express the emotion that will ultimately lead to expressing gratitude. Write down on the leaves every object or person that merits to be thankful for and glue them on the tree branches … The more leaves, the more joy! Don’t forget that there are no limits, we can be thankful for delicious food, fancy colours or the bus driver.
However you choose to instill gratitude in your child’s personality, keep in mind that it follows 4 main steps
Awareness and Mindfulness : Initiate the talk with your child, encourage them to observe and notice things, places and people, ask the right questions, has someone done something for you or brought you somewhere you enjoyed? What did you love about it?
Thinking and Reflecting : Contemplate and help them rationalize the reasons why things were given or done for them, whether it was earnt or merited and whether it was motivated by kindness or love.
Feelings and Emotions : Encouraging them to define the way they felt and express the emotion, use words like fun, happy, excited and proud.
Actions : To complete the acquisition of the notion of gratitude, actions must be taken to define the way to express appreciation. What can be done and how can you say thank you and express gratitude