Have you ever noticed how on the days you remember to count your blessings, everything feels just a little more manageable?
You remind yourself that spilled juice on the carpet isn’t the worst thing that could’ve happened that day. You get over the dog chewing on your favorite pair of running shoes because you remember to take a deep breath: shoes are replaceable, but she isn’t.
Life can feel like a storm sometimes. It’s easy to get caught in the wind and let negative emotions take over. When we practice gratitude, we learn to pause, slow down, and remember that we have a lot to be grateful for. This can be difficult in life’s crazier moments – especially for kids. It’s important to start teaching your kids gratitude at a young age to raise healthy and happy individuals. I want to talk about how practicing gratitude impacts your children’s health and ways you can instill gratitude in your kids.
What Are the Health Benefits of Practicing Gratitude?
Why is raising grateful children so important? Gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness and better health. (1) Studies continue to show that counting your blessings…
- reduces stress
- boosts the immune system
- reduces depression
- decreases risk of heart problems
- improves relationships
- increases psychological wellbeing
- enhances positive emotions and self-esteem (2) (3)
Growing up isn’t easy. Over one million kids today are diagnosed with anxiety and depression. (4) Over one million! Supporting kids’ mental and physical health is crucial. The evidence is clear – practicing gratitude helps promote your child’s health and happiness. It’s also our job as parents to raise kind and respectful human beings. Practicing gratitude with our kids fosters this type of solid character.
7 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Live Gratefully
Thanksgiving is here and it’s the perfect time to be talking about gratitude with your kids. But really, the practice goes all year long! Here are 7 ways to start teaching gratitude in your home:
- Set an example and enforce the same behavior with your kids. Say “please” and “thank you” yourself! Children mimic our behavior more than we realize. Expressing appreciation towards someone who does something helpful for you shows your child how we act. And it’s important to enforce this behavior. Kids might forget when they’re young!
- Make telling each other your blessings a regular practice. The best way to develop a habit is to do something at the same time every day. Choose a moment to tell each other what you’re grateful for every day. This could be on the way to school, at the dinner table, or before bed.
- Encourage your kids to donate their things to a local charity. Having your kids give their things to others is a wonderful way to instill gratitude. Be sure to explain charity to them before you donate – that it means helping other kids in need who don’t have all the things they’re blessed with. This encourages positive feelings around donating and makes them feel good! There are so many ways to donate! Kids can give away toys, clothes, toiletries, and even Halloween candy. Check out this list of charities local to Colorado Springs.
- Connect gratitude with your faith. Acknowledging your blessings and serving others is a focus of most religious practices. Getting involved in faith by regularly attending services or saying prayers is a powerful way for kids to gain a sense of gratitude and feel part of a community.
- Have your kids write “thank you” notes.Thank you notes are not dead! Not in my house! They’re a beautiful way to teach your children gratitude. Bring these out after a birthday party, a holiday, or anytime your child receives a gift. Sit down with them and help them put their thoughts into words – how did it feel to be gifted that stuffed elephant?
- Ask your kids to help out. Whether it’s making dinner, packing lunches, or folding laundry, asking your kids to help out enhances their appreciation for all that you do for them.
- Always look for teachable moments. Don’t let moments pass that could’ve been a valuable learning opportunity! For example, when you remind your child to say “thank you,” follow up by explaining why we thank others when they do something kind or helpful for us. Those real-life situations stick with kids.
Tis’ the Season of Gratitude
We all want to raise good kids. A grateful attitude is powerful – it improves our own well-being while also enriching the world around us. How cool is that?! What do you do to instill gratitude in your kids? Connect with me on Instagram @theorganiccure and send me a message to let me know! I love connecting with you mamas. Tis’ the season of gratitude – and here’s to practicing all year long!