One of the most important things I think we can teach our children is to be thankful. To share with them the thinking and understanding that gratitude for all that we are and all that we have will have an incredible and positive impact on our lives and will help us to navigate through moments of pain and the unknown. Here are 5 ways we’ve helped guide Joshua in feeling gratitude daily.
1. Start each and every day with 3 things you’re thankful for
On our morning walk, on our way to school, as we sit and eat breakfast- at the start of everyday we find time to share 3 things we’re thankful for. We take turns, each taking a moment to pause and look around, to notice what we feel, to look forward in our day and week, and to share what makes our heart so happy. We started doing this when Joshua was almost three years old and it’s been the perfect way to start our day. To get out of a grumpy mood if needed, and to focus on the things that are beautiful in our lives. It’s been so powerful for us that even when I forget, he reminds me, letting me know that “a thankful heart is a happy heart” (cue veggietales love.) His words, at almost 4 years old, now go something like this – I’m thankful for the sun in the sky: that we’re able to play outside today. I’m thankful that in 3 days we see grandma: that we can hug and play again. I’m thankful that I get to go to school: that I can explore with my friends.
2. Take time every day to say what you love about yourself
Gratitude for “things” seems easy, but gratitude for ourselves? For the parts of us that are different? That’s something most of us adults struggle with each and everyday. That’s why it’s so important to help instill in our children to show real love and gratitude for every single part of who we are. During the day, we find time to share 1 or 2 things that we love about ourselves. I love that I’m so strong, look how much my arms can lift! I love that I’m so sweet, it helps me make friends. I love this little freckle I have by my eye, I’ve never seen one like it before. I love my brown skin, it’s so beautiful. Each one of these statements, as “silly” as we may be programmed to feel saying them out loud, helps our children not only grow confidence in themselves but feel gratitude in how each and every one of us are uniquely made. How all of these things make us special and that it’s a reason to celebrate, to be thankful for.
3. End each night with this question “What was you’re favourite thing about today”
This is one of my favourites because I see how fast Joshua’s face lights up when he’s asked this question; how excited he is to pick the one moment that was his absolute favourite from our day. A moment of pause to look back and reflect on all that happened, to share, and then to fall asleep feeling fullness and thankfulness in our heart. This is a beautiful way to end a day with family, a play date, dinner, etc, because each child and adult can share but also listen to what meant the most to the other. We started doing this when Joshua was barely 2 years old and now it’s not only become a daily tradition for our family, but for so many of our friends that have joined in during the last year.
These three simple things done daily, or even weekly, can help us guide our children in always remembering that all that we have and all that we are is something we should be immensely grateful for. Practicing gratitude can shift our perspective, our emotions, and our way in carrying out seasons of doubt, hardship, or even fear. It is one of the most beautiful practices to have as they continue to grow.