Habits to Teach Gratitude and Appreciation: Modeling for Our Kids What it Means to Be Grateful
Learning to be grateful for where you are and what you already possess can have a profound impact on your life. As the saying goes, “Gratitude makes a great attitude!” Even in the midst of extremely challenging circumstances, we can usually find something to be thankful for. In addition to helping us cope with challenges, this kind of grateful attitude can be contagious and is a wonderful life lesson to share with our kids.
Here are some suggestions for making gratitude a regular habit:
1. Make it a Habit
Learning to be truly grateful can change your life. One way to continue a new “attitude of gratitude” is to create a habit around your thankfulness. For example, you might set aside a certain time of day to reflect on what you’re grateful for. Sometimes it can help to do something ritualistic at the same time, such as make yourself a cup of tea. Then, as you’re sipping the tea, consider what you’re grateful for. Each time you make a cup of tea, reflect on your gratitude. Over time, this will begin to seep into your everyday thinking, and you’ll realize that you have much in life to be grateful for!
2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Write down five things each day that you’re grateful for. At first, you might think that it would be hard to come up with different things each day, but you’d be surprised at how expressing gratitude in this way causes you to recognize that you have more to be thankful for than you ever could have imagined.
3. Be Grateful for the Challenging Times, Too
Share with your kids some of the challenging times you’ve gone through in life that you’re also grateful for. Some of these examples might relate to your parenting experiences. A simple example might be the sleepless nights you spent when your children were infants. It certainly wasn’t fun to be up most of the night, and it was hard to function at work the next day, but those moments of bonding together were also irreplaceable. What other examples can you think of? How have you grown through your most challenging experiences, and what good has come out of them?
4. Write a Letter of Thanks
Don’t keep your gratitude to yourself! When you feel thankful for certain people in your life, be bold enough to say it out loud or put it in a letter. One of the great tragedies in life is that, too often, we just don’t know what we mean to others. You can take one small step toward changing this by writing a letter of gratitude to an old friend, co-worker, mentor, or friend.
5. Express Your Thanks Out Loud
While you’re eating dinner with your kids, go around the table and share one or two things that you’re thankful for. What’s especially great about this simple habit is that your kids will inspire you to see things you hadn’t seen before.
By Jennifer Wolf About.com