Teaching kids to take time to express gratitude allows them to be mindful of what they have in their life. This is an important life skill because when they’re going through a tough time, they can focus on the things that are going well for them.
Recently we were on a ten day trip to California. This trip was supposed to be a week of sunny, warm weather which has escape from the cold and snow. Instead we had four days of heavy rain which put a damper on our plans for Disneyland, San Diego Zoo and Legoland.
We worked around it but we were bummed that we had to wear sweatshirts/jackets for the whole trip and leave early from the parks. At dinner one night, we decided to take a few minutes and say everything that we were grateful for on the trip so far. It allowed us to focus on the positive instead of dwelling on the negative. Within a few minutes, we felt uplifted and fortunate to be on such an amazing trip.
Expressing gratitude gets your brain out of the worry/anger/stress of everyday life. You will start to see the little blessings of everyday life and this practice becomes easier.
Here’s an exercise to get you started. These are general topics so really any answer will be acceptable. If you are doing this with a child, you may have to give one example of what you are grateful for before they come up with theirs. Over the week, this will become easier for both of you to do.
Steps to Express Gratitude:
- Start with a plan
Pick the time of day that works for you:
- Before you get out of bed – starts the day on a positive note
- Dinnertime with the family
- Before bed – kids are always full of thoughts and ideas
- When feeling overwhelmed/upset/anxious throughout the day
Do what works for you, some suggestions are:
- Name three things/people that you are grateful for
- Find a topic (as per the printable worksheet below) to help you focus on one area that you can think about what you’re grateful for
2. Sit quietly for a few breaths and think about your response.
- By sitting quiet, you allow time for thinking. See what floats into your brain.
- Be careful not to provide answers to kids. Allow extra quiet time for them to think.
3. Have an output
- Discuss with family
- Sit with that feeling quietly