Gratitude - the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation
for and to return kindness
Gratitude is one of many positive emotions. It's about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have; not the things we don't! This is a character trait that I would like to instill in my grandchildren, not only during this holiday season but throughout the whole year!
Studies show that kids who practice gratitude, actually grow up to be happier adults. So how do we teach gratitude and compete with kids that are in a world of instant gratification.
The research and evidence below was taken from verywellminded.com
A 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies1 found that gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling gratitude in your kids at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people.
According to a 2008 study published in the Journal of School Psychology2 , grateful children (ages 11 to 13) tend to be happier, more optimistic, and have better social support. They also report more satisfaction with their schools, families, communities, friends, and themselves. Grateful kids also tend to give more social support to others as well.
According to a 2011 study published in Psychological Assessment3 , grateful teens (ages 14 to 19) are more satisfied with their lives, use their strengths to improve their communities, are more engaged in their schoolwork and hobbies, and have better grades. They’ve also been shown to be less envious, depressed, and materialistic than their less grateful counterparts.
It’s true that much of the gratitude research focuses on adults, but the benefits of gratitude are numerous for everyone. A 2010 study published in Clinical Psychology Review4 linked gratitude to everything from improved psychological well-being to better physical health. Grateful people tend to sleep better and even live longer.
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology5 found that grateful adults are happier and more hopeful. Gratitude was a better predictor of hope and happiness than other constructs, like forgiveness, patience, and even self-control.
Additionally, the study found that people who were grateful for things that happened to them in the past, felt happier in the present and more hopeful about their future. Perhaps giving your grandkids a childhood they feel grateful about now will help them reflect more on reasons to be grateful as an adult.
I have found some books on gratitude and thankfulness that will help your younger grandchildren learn about this state of mind.
The Berenstain Bears - Count Their Blessings. Come for a visit in Bear Country with this classic from Stan and Jan Berenstain. A big storm is rolling through Bear Country! Brother and Sister are scared, but Papa and Mama help the cubs realize that they are all safe and that the whole family should count their blessings. Includes over 50 bonus stickers!
I'm Thankful - Sometimes the people, places, and things we take for granted are the things for which we need to show gratitude. I'm Thankful was written to remind children of some of the many things we have to be thankful for. It can be used as a teaching tool as well as a topic for family discussions.
Gratitude Is My Superpower - This book will help your kids in many ways:
they will focus on the blessings they receive every day
they will begin to appreciate what others do for them,
they will feel true happiness when they realize that they have everything they need.
Bear Says Thanks - Bear has come up with the perfect way to say thanks—a nice big dinner! When Bear decides to throw a feast, his friends show up one by one with different platters of delicious food to share. There’s just one problem: Bear’s cupboards are bare! What is he to do? I personally love all of the Bear books - beautiful illustrations along with meaningful words.
Researchers from UNC encourage parents to ask kids questions to help foster a deeper sense of gratitude. Here are some questions that can help kids experience all four gratitude components:
Notice – What do you have in your life to be grateful for? Are there things to be grateful for beyond the actual gifts someone has given you? Are you grateful for any people in your life?
Think – What do you think about this present? Do you think you should give something to the person who gave it to you? Do you think you earned the gift? Do you think the person gave you a gift because they thought they had to or because they wanted to?
Feel – Does it make you feel happy to get this gift? What does it feel like inside? What about this gift makes you feel happy?
Do – Is there a way to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you have about this gift make you want to share this feeling by giving to someone else?
So, clearly there are a lot of good reasons to help kids experience and express gratitude. Here are a few strategies that can help your kids feel more grateful.
Ways to Teach Gratitude to Your Grandchildren (from parents.com):
Work gratitude into your daily conversation. When you reinforce an idea frequently, it's more likely to stick. For instance, “What a beautiful day it’s going to be!”, ”What an amazing sunset!”. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a "thanking" part of the day. Here are two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.
Have kids help. When my grandchildren are visiting, they help with taking care of their dog, picking up their toys, setting the table and even helping their Pa in the office by shredding papers (which they absolutely love and get some pennies for helping). By participating in simple household chores, kids realize that all these things take effort.
Find a goodwill project. When my children were in middle school, my mom and I would take them once a week, during the summer, to volunteer at the food bank. Younger grandchildren can get boxes to fill for the needy at church and help you fill them or collect food for the needy and drop off at a shelter. I can’t wait for my grandkids to get older so I can take them to the foodbank to volunteer as well. So, even if they’re not old enough to go volunteer they can help you fill boxes or make dinner for a sick neighbor or friend. Figure out some way they can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it's as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. As you're stirring the batter or adding sprinkles, talk about how you're making them for a special person, and how happy that person will be.
Encourage generosity. You can donate clothes or toys to a charity, facetiming a loved one just because.
Insist on thank-you notes. When my children were young and received a gift from someone, it was always a given that a thank you note would be in order. It makes me happy to see my kids teach my grandchildren the art of writing a thank you. Toddlers can scribble with an adult writing the thank you, younger children can dictate what they would like to say. Just the act of saying out loud why they loved the gift will make them feel more grateful.
Practice saying no. Of course kids ask for toys, video games, and candy -- sometimes on an hourly basis. It's difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying no a lot makes saying yes that much sweeter. As a Gigi, this is a very hard one to practice; however, I do it at times.
Be patient. You can't expect gratitude to develop overnight -- it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. Children and grandchildren model behavior so be sure to look for the positive things in your life and express gratitude.
Start a gratitude pumpkin with your family. Mimi Jackie started this tradition and you can find out how, by clicking here .
Here is a downloadable Kids Gratitude Journal from The Savvy Sparrow.
Thankful grandchildren are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there's more to it than that. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way!
With a thankful heart, I would like to thank you for your time in making a difference in the next generation! I hope each one of us grandmas can help make gratitude our grandchildren's superpower!!! What an awesome world it would be - one of Thanks and of Giving!
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus
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