“I have never known a situation not improve by expressing a little gratitude.”
We are so accustomed to say thank you in our interactions that it can become white noise that often punctuates the end of our exchanges. And that may be fine for those times when someone holds the door open for us, or for when we pick up our dry cleaning.
But there is a juice however that resides in really taking the time to savour that feeling because when you pay attention to being grateful you can affect a lovely change in how you feel at a deeper level. As you practise some of the exercises below take the time to notice and bring to your child’s attention how the feeling of gratitude resonates inside them. It is those good feelings we want to cultivate and nurture. And, so it is far less about the amount of things you are grateful for – we’re not list building here – but the feeling that it gives you. If it happens to be one thing in that day, however small, then take it, harness it, and let it resonate it inside you. That’s a good feeling to have, isn’t it? One that makes feel you can achieve a lot.
It won’t blow all the dark clouds away, but it will give you a little bit of blue sky to lead you out.
When you’re struggling with life, expressing some gratitude helps you out of the hole you’re in. It won’t blow all the dark clouds away, but it will give you a little bit of blue sky to lead you out.
You maybe be saying, “I say thank you a lot, but I don’t get that feeling”. Well it maybe because just saying thank you on it’s own isn’t enough. It’s like putting the key in the door, you’ve got to turn it for it to open up, and you turn it by adding the reason you are grateful.
This really is the secret sauce when people talk about gratitude. This is part that expands the feeling allowing it to resonate inside. By adding this you deepen the emotional connection to the ‘thank you’, because we are explaining what it means to us.
Take a moment to read these sentences and simply notice how you feel as you read each one:
“Thank you for helping me out earlier.”
You may notice it gives you a nice, pleasant feeling as you read the sentence.
“Thank you for helping me out earlier. I was running late and really had to get out on time”
Do you experience a different sensation? Would the second example mean more to you?
It is this that I would encourage you to do as you bring more gratitude into your family’s life.Try to add it to any of the suggestions below and see how it feels. You’ll be surprised at how good this can feel.
Here are some ways you can bring the experience of gratitude into your child’s life.
#01. At bedtime or dinner, ask your child what 3 things they were grateful for in the day. And if you can ask them why they were grateful.
#02. Write a thank you note to a teacher, family member or a sibling.
#03. Ask them to notice what they are grateful for about themselves. This is a great one to build self-esteem.
#04. Gratitude jar. Have a jar in the kitchen or beside their bed where they can write little notes of thanks. Perhaps read them all out once a year or every month.
#05. Gratitude stone. Get you child to choose a stone they like. They can decorate it if they wish and have them keep it beside their bed. At night ask them to hold the stone and either aloud or in their head share something they are grateful for.
#06. Gratitude journal. Depending on the age of the child, get them to start a gratitude journal. Simply listing what they are grateful for in the day and the reason behind it.
#07. Encourage helping out around the house. This is as non-verbal as it gets. Show them that helping out around the house is an expression of gratitude, a gesture of appreciation. And naturally reward their efforts with your own gratitude.
#08. Give love more than gifts. This need not be formal but help your child to tell the people in your family what you love about them and are grateful for.
#09. Get siblings to remind things for the other child they’ve forgotten – help each other out.
#10. Keeping it very simple: Thank you …. for …
#11. Get them to listen (or listen to them without interruption). Ask them to notice how they feel when they get someone’s full attention. This way you begin to link the feeling to the meaning.
#12. Lead by example. Model, model, model. They will mimic your behaviour. So check in with yourself and make sure that you’re setting the example you want to see.
#13. Ask them what was their favourite thing to happen today/this week.
#14. Include an act of kindness in their life each day
#15. Meditate with your gratitude list. Depending on the age of your child, get them to read through at the beginning of the day, or at the end of the week their gratitude list from their journal, or the notes if you’re using the jar.
#16. Make a gratitude hand. Draw or outline your child’s hand. Get them to write down on each finger one thing they are grateful for. Then you do the same. Pin or stick the two hands somewhere they can see them regularly.
I hope some of the ideas inspire you to bring the practise of gratitude into your home or add to what you are already doing.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.
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