Parents are supposed to help their kids in many different ways. They need to help their loved ones become independent, satisfied and successful individuals by instilling the right values in them and teaching them some vital skills. One of them is gratitude, which is linked with many physical, social and emotional benefits.
However, you can’t just tell your kids they need to be grateful. If an action they’ve chosen to do is forced or feels like homework, the outcome will not be authentic and the results will not provide the potential benefits that experiencing gratitude offers. That’s why kids’ interests and strengths need to be engaged. How is that done?
Use their strengths
Every parent knows what matters to their kids and what kind of activities make them feel engaged and strong. It’s those strengths that should be a basis for gratitude activities. Kids feel great about connecting with others, helping or entertaining them when the activity in question aligns with what makes them feel good about themselves. That’s why it’s important to know what makes your kid feel strong.
Photo or art project
One of the activities you could do to instil gratitude in your kid is to get involved in a photo or art project in which kids will try to identify the things they are grateful for and find or, even better, create images that depict those things. Once the final product is there, you can talk to the kid and ask them why they’ve chosen those images and how important the notions the images depict are to them. You can revisit the final result some time later to see if there is anything your kid would like to add or remove from the album/presentation.
Use family moments to show what you’re grateful for
Family bonding activities are great for nurturing your parent-child relationship and teaching your kids how to be thankful. Events such as Christmas are perfect, since you get to spend more time with your family, which allows you to do more things together. You can take your kids shopping for decorations and let them pick out a Christmas tree. Follow in the footsteps of many Australian parents, who are trying to celebrate a more sustainable Christmas. An amazing Christmas tree in Australia is often decorated using last-year ornaments, which may have been painted to seem new. Decorating a Christmas tree is a fantastic opportunity to share some wonderful moments, which your kid will cherish forever.
Three good things
One of the most popular activities for instilling gratitude in kids requires you to sit down with your kid and identify and talk about “three good things”. You can write them down and put the notes in a gratitude jar or enter three notes in an app. You may wish to discuss them with your kid after a while and see if they still feel the same about them
Paper chain of gratitude
Another fun activity is to use slips of construction paper and have your kid write down the things they’re grateful for. Staple the slips together in interlocking loops to connect them together. The longer the chain, the more your kid is grateful for and this image will help them realize there are so many things that inspire gratitude in them.
Circle of gratitude
This activity is done in many schools all over the world. Just like students sit in a circle and take turns sharing what they’re grateful for, you can use the same activity with the members of your family. When your kids hear what you’re grateful for, they’ll definitely start thinking about it and most likely learn to appreciate it.
If you organise a party at your home and invite all those who you feel deserve your gratitude, your kid will see how positive feelings are quickly spread and how people’s mood improves. That should inspire them to recognise the people who deserve their gratitude and your kids will have no problem expressing gratitude directly.
Young people who enjoy journaling might find it useful to write letters to someone expressing gratitude, but this activity won’t work if your kid feels forced to do it. Alternatively, your kid could keep a gratitude journal in which they would express their feelings in writing, without a particular recipient in mind.
Society needs to harness the power of gratitude and parents should play their part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. Still, such a goal can’t be achieved overnight and we need to be both patient and persistent. After all, most worthwhile things require a lot of time and effort and it’s our job, as parents, to make them happen.