It’s that time of the year, where kindness and gratitude come to the forefront and most parents would be wondering how to explain gratitude to their younger ones. The internet would be flooded with worksheets, games, and activities that parents can use to teach gratitude even to their kindergarten-aged kids. If you are thinking like me, then you would agree to the point that the Gratitude wouldn’t get inculcated in the kids by playing a few games or practicing it by saying “Thank you and Please, Sorry” during Thanksgiving or other related festivals across the world.
The “Attitude of Gratitude” was inculcated in me by my elders, while they were practicing it diligently and I had decided to do the same with my child. Having the gratitude trait in my attitude, I had become more optimistic, happy, joyful, and mindful about myself and my surroundings.
What is Attitude of Gratitude?
The attitude of gratitude means having a mindset of being thankful and appreciating the opportunities, the curveballs thrown by the cosmos at us. It makes us operate from the abundance mindset, instead of being pulled down by various anxieties and fears.
It means, we have become habitual in expressing our heartfelt appreciation for every aspect of life – big and small, good and bad. It doesn’t mean that we have to force our smiles or express our gratitude when we are down with issues. It means that we acknowledge the negative feelings, factors that are pulling us down and we try to come out of them. How to come out of them, depends on how we look at that particular situation. It basically means inculcating the gratitude mindset within ourselves.
In simpler words, we include gratitude in our personality and it has become next to our skin. We wear the cloak of gratitude all the time. Every person’s attitude towards life is different. But if we can add the spice of gratitude into that attitude, then life would become more beautiful and meaningful. Here is a quick list of benefits one can achieve by having an attitude of gratitude in life.
- It makes you an eternal optimistic
- It provides the happiness that lasts.
- Improves Emotional, Mental, and Physical Health
- Helps in building meaningful relationships
- Helps in achieving professional and personal goals with relatively less stress and anxiety
How to inculcate Attitude of Gratitude in Kids?
Now as parents, we all want our kids to have this wonderful mindset of having an attitude of gratitude, isn’t it? So here are a few tips specifically tailored to kids.
Start each day with an attitude of gratitudeSource Unknown from Quotes Master
- Express Gratitude daily: Kids are good obeservers and they learn by observing. So when they observe you talking about how thankful you are for that day or a particular thing on a regular basis, then they would also start behaving in similar way. And it need not have to be done at a fixed time or fixed place. You can express your gratitude, whenever you are enjoying something.
Ex: You can say, “Look at the warm sunlight coming through the windows, thank god, the sun is out already and bright today“. Or for a rainy day or snowy day – you can choose the words appropriately and express your thanks to god.
2. Appreciate Others and Self too: Always take time out for appreciating other people or even you yourself for the things well done. You have to look for opportunities to appreciate people rather than waiting for something particular to get done. Active appreciation helps people to complete their tasks in the best possible way. The caution here we need to take is not to provide empty appreciations for the sake of appreciation. People can see through the empty appreciations.
Ex: At the dinner table, you can thank your partner or you yourself for preparing a warm wonderful meal for the family. You can also appreciate different characteristics in the person, which makes them unique and interesting.
While appreciating the efforts of another person or complimenting yourself for the task well completed will help the kids identify the efforts of another person. Then they start appreciating the other people in their life too. Slowly, the kids start appreciating their own inner strengths and characteristics.
3. Practice Mindfulness: Being mindful about the situations, surroundings and people around you helps in appreciating them better. You would start enjoying being in the moment and appreciating those opportunities. Being mindful not only helps you in appreciating the present but also helps you get rid of the negative feelings and emotions. When you start appreciating the present moment, you start developing positive thinking and hence you wouldn’t dwell on the negative situations or feelings.
Kids by nature are mindful and they live in the moment. But we changed it all. So now, we need to teach them to stop and smell the roses once again, without hurrying all the time.
Ex: Spend more time in nature, start appreciating the beautiful sunsets and sunrises along with the kids. Teach them meditation techniques. We can ask them to dwell on the things, people that they are grateful for during those brief meditating moments. You can go for gratitude walks (each person names a thing, person, or experience they are grateful for before taking the next step in the walk)
4. Gratitude Journals or Jars: Having the gratitude journal or jar for every family member would inculcate the practice of expressing gratitude regularly and that’s the first step in inculcating the attitude of gratitude in kids. Practicing daily gratitude affirmations also would do the trick.
Depending on the age of the child, we can either have the prompt-based gratitude journals or the plain ones. A gratitude jar is for the younger ones to show how happy and grateful they should be in life, as each item, person, or situation would be written on a chit and placed in the jar.
5. Practice turning complaints and envy into compliments: Every child would have one or the other complaint at one point or the other about his friends and peers. Instead of listening to those complaints, if we can direct the kids to turn them into praises, then the kids would learn to start looking for positive traits in everyone. The same is the case with envy and jealousy too,
Ex: My kid first experienced this feeling of jealousy when the other boy in his team scored better runs when compared to him. He came home saying he would take revenge on him. Instead of fueling his jealousy, we showed how vigilant that other boy was when compared to him. That’s the reason for him to score more runs. We not only showed him the area to improve and but also showed the reason why he needs to appreciate the other boy.
Gratitude helps you to see what’s there instead of what isn’tQuotes.CC
Though these tips, might look simple to read, it takes time and patience from the parent’s end to inculcate the attitude of gratitude in kids. And for the parents who are starting on the path of inculcating the attitude of gratitude in kids, the above steps would look daunting in the very beginning. We need to start taking baby steps before we start proceeding in the path of having gratitude as our attitude. Apart from being a good role model in the department of gratitude to your kids, the following are the few baby steps that as a parent we can start implementing to teach the attitude of gratitude in kids.
- Nudging the child to say “Thank you or Please”
- Ask the open-ended questions which makes the child think about why they are thanking the other person
- Make the child understand his emotions and feelings, so that he can navigate through them with your support
- Showing the opportunities to volunteer and help the underprivileged kids or serve the community as a whole
- Reading them the stories of kindness and gratitude on a regular basis
- Create opportunities to send thank you cards or the festival greeting to neighbours and extended family members, to see the smiles on their faces.
Are there any downsides to this attitude?
Some people might wonder whether are there any negative side effects for adding gratitude into our attitude. Let me tell you, that apart from getting the nickname that he/she is a people pleaser and always wants to thank everyone, there is no other particular harm that research has predicted so far. The only side effect that I got to know is to get the grumpy people to smile a little or spread some cheer and happiness in the unfortunate people’s faces. I don’t think that would hurt anyone in the long run.
So, having the attitude of gratitude is very simple actually, expressing your heartfelt thanks to everything in life and appreciating every moment of life. You can instill this in kids, with relative ease if you can role model it, to begin with. Always remember that by having the attitude of gratitude the kids can have a more balanced emotional and mental health. They will become more well-balanced individuals if we practice the gratitude year long, without limiting it to Thanksgiving or other festival times. Lastly, I want to share my mom’s saying, which I always believe:
Gratitude is the spice, which can be added to every meal you have in a day