As we approach the holiday season, many of us reflect on our blessings. As parents, we often ponder how to nurture gratitude in our children and help them appreciate the blessings that surround them. Gratitude is so important because it is consistently associated with greater happiness and improved mental and physical health. Studies have shown that feeling thankful can improve sleep, mood, depression and anxiety.
This blog will explore three simple ways to teach gratitude that will benefit your children well beyond the holiday season.
- Be a gratitude role model. Actions speak louder than words and with children this is especially true. Children learn by example and if you want to teach your child gratitude, it is important for you to model it often. Expressing gratitude through words, writing, small gifts or acts of reciprocity are all ways to teach gratitude.
- Gratitude Crafts. Engage children in creative activities to promote gratitude. Craft sessions can include making “gratitude trees” where children write down or draw what they’re thankful for on colorful leaves and attach them to a tree cutout. These visual representations serve as constant reminders of the abundance in their lives, making gratitude a tangible concept.
- Volunteering and acts of kindness. Fall is the season of giving. Involve children in age-appropriate volunteer activities, such as helping at a local food bank or collecting toys for a toy drive. Engaging in acts of kindness fosters empathy as children realize the impact of their actions on others’ lives. It is common for many families to make volunteering a tradition this time of year, but it can be a year-round tradition.
The holiday season is an opportunity for parents to teach their children about being thankful for life’s blessings, both big and small. It is important to remember that children don’t just develop a grateful attitude overnight, it’s a skill that must be learned and practiced consistently over time. Find ways to embrace gratitude daily and make it part of your child’s daily routine. By nurturing an attitude of thankfulness, parents can cultivate a deeper sense of empathy and compassion in children and equip them with essential life skills, enhancing their overall well-being.
Christine Holmberg, LMFT