Being able to recognise what we can be grateful for isn’t just useful for those times when things are going great, but most importantly when we are struggling with a particular situation or problem. Noticing what we can be grateful for breaks down limited and closed thinking, and let’s in more creativity and problem solving skills. By focusing on the challenge and the related problems restricts our minds from thinking of solutions. Expressing an attitude of gratitude is a great kick start to not only a resilient mindset but also to developing a strong, solution focused approach to challenges. This positive approach benefits a child in all stages of life.
As with any ideas or suggestions there is only one best way to approach this: find what works for you. Discard what doesn’t connect with you and look to find what feels the easiest and most natural for you and your child.
A regular practise of any of these will over time be massively beneficial. And if none of these seem like a good fit for you then take a look at these 16 other suggestions.
It’s super simple but is one of the most powerful daily habits your child can master: help your child express gratitude for themselves. What are they grateful for about themselves? What do they like about who they are? If your child finds this tricky, ask them what other people might like about them. While we are using another person, we are still using your child’s inner belief as the reference point.
Practice this at home, especially during moments when siblings act positively towards each other. The more we can acknowledge the behaviour we want to see the more likely your child will repeat it.
Find opportunities locally where they can offer their time to help out. Perhaps at a school event or sports match. Giving, in the form of volunteering, is a powerful way to develop a sense of gratitude. It also helps to improve social skills and an appreciation of others.
When we show them all of the effort that goes into making a house run smoothly they learn to be grateful for the little things. Until we actually do something we never really know what effort and planning goes in to something, give your child the experience to understand what goes on behind the scenes.
Happy kids are intrinsically motivated, not extrinsically motivated, so teaching them that toys, games etc equal happiness may cause challenges in the future. Toys and games can easily become disposable soon after the excitement fades. The more they realise that happiness is an inside job, and doesn’t come with packaging or a box, the sooner they’ll find gratefulness in other things.
Take the chance to express gratefulness when things aren’t going so well. Can you be grateful for a rainy day because grass needs the rain? When faced with some unfortunate situation, we can ask, “What is something good that can come from this?”. And quickly you and your child will see another way of appreciating the moment. Develop this consistently over a period of time and your chid will have the groundwork of a resilient and positive mindset.
Take a walk through the woods and notice the colour, texture of the leaves, the cooler dampness of the air. Be thankful for the changing seasons. Something as simple and as easy as changing your environment and appreciating what you find there is a simple yet gentle approach to both gratefulness and mindfulness.
Our kids are watching us. Be the good role model you are. We all know that the best way to teach is by example. What a child sees on a regular basis becomes their norm. So start to improve your own attitude of gratitude and lead the way for your child. Very quickly you’ll see them mimicking and copying your approach.
I hope you’ve found these useful. At the very least I hope you can take away some ideas and then modify them to fit your own situation and find something that works for you. To bring more gratitude into your life doesn’t need to feel like a task, it can take seconds simply to notice something positive about your day and to feel the benefit.
The biggest reward from this is the more you’re grateful, the more things you see in your life to be grateful for. You begin to gear your mind and your child’s mind to appreciate quicker and easier. Naturally by no means does this soften major life challenges, but will help to get through them in a more useful, a more resilient way, which, after all, is what we hope our children to have.
Ben Jackson coaches for personal development, leadership and transition for career parents. Juggling work, family and life in the Chilterns, he’s currently studying consecutively for a diploma in counselling and a diploma in teaching.