We teach our children the importance of saying please and thank you, but raising a truly grateful child can go far beyond that. Gratitude in people of all ages has shown to be an emotional booster and research suggests that grateful people are more resistant to stress and have a higher sense of their self-worth. That’s a lot to be thankful for! Encouraging gratitude in your preschooler or elementary age child can be a family affair. The holiday season is the perfect time to start establishing these five family practices that encourage gratefulness, like these.
Rethink the wish list
Sure kids will want to make their traditional wish list for the holiday season, but they can make an additional different type of list. Have them write down things that they would like to give their friends and family as holiday gifts (handmade gifts are always encouraged!).
Be of service
There are opportunities for children of all ages to participate in serving their community. Brainstorm as a family how and where you can donate time and effort. Some ideas might be shopping for goods to donate to the local food bank, baking cookies for the local fire station, or volunteering time at a nursing home.
We get so used to our modern conveniences and non-essential comforts that we often take them for granted. Pick something as a family (like eating at restaurants or TV time) to do without for a week. Though the thought of doing without might make event he grown-ups cringe, the practice will help the whole family appreciate how good they have it (and it’s only a week).
Find reasons to be thankful
Establishing a routine to allow family members to share things they are thankful for does not have to be limited to a turkey dinner. Find a time, like at bedtime or dinner to have each person share out loud one or two things they are grateful for. A gratitude jar can also be used. Filled with notes about who or what things each person appreciates, notes can be added and pulled at random on a regular basis.
Look for the silver linings
Things are not always going to go our way. Next time your child (or even one of the grown-ups) complains, help them find the silver lining of the difficult situation. Almost any type of setback has some kind of silver lining to be grateful for, you just have to look for it.
Gratitude is just one of the many things that our teachers encourage in students as part of our social-emotional curriculum. Visit one of our centers or contact us to learn more about how Tender Years enriches our students for life.