One of the first things we teach our kids as soon as they learn to speak is to say, "Thank you." Think of the countless times you have said, "What do you say?..." to prompt your child to utter these words. But do our kids really have any idea what it means to be thankful?
Practicing gratitude has benefits that go far beyond having a polite kid. Studies show that people who practice gratitude feel 25% happier, are more likely to be kind and helpful to others, are more enthusiastic, interested and determined, and the benefits for our kids are equally as impressive (watch the video above for those).
So how can families practice gratitude in meaningful ways? Here are a few ideas.
3 ideas for incorporating the practice of gratitude into your day
1) Express your appreciation for each other.
In my house we started this as a birthday tradition. When it is someone's birthday we go around the table and express what we all appreciate about that person. The first time we did this it was uncomfortable for me — it felt 'cheesy' for lack of a better term. But when I heard the amazing things my kids had to say it quickly became my favorite family ritual, and we remind each other of what has been said often. But don’t feel like you need to wait for a major life event to show your appreciation – I have a friend who comes home from work and often finds a sticky note on her fridge from her partner, expressing appreciation for her (this is a subtle hint that Kenny could up his game ).
2) Make a gratitude jar.
This can be a fun project for kids. Find a container and let the kids decorate it. Cut out some pieces of scratch paper and put them in a convenient place so that family members can write down things they feel grateful for and place the paper in the jar. If kids can't yet write then having them draw a picture of something works great too! Then, open the jar once a week or once a month and read what everyone has written. I’ve been amazed at not only what is written between family members, but also the long lasting, positive effects this has had on our relationships, especially between my children.
3) Make it part of your bedtime routine.
Take a few minutes at the end of each day to show appreciation for the little things in your life for which you are thankful. Write your thoughts in a journal, or ask your kids to tell you three things they are thankful for before they go to bed. Try to think of one new thing each day – ideally something that happened that day.
As I write this I am sitting in my father in law's living room as we get ready to kick off our family vacation. I am feeling so grateful for the opportunity to take a family vacation, to have family I love to visit, to have kids who are amazing travelers, and to be safe inside a home listening to an incredible east coast thunderstorm!
One more thought…
I have created an amazing online community, A Moxie Tribe, dedicated to bringing kick ass moms with big ass jobs together, electronically and in person. My goal, while connecting us all, is to support your careers, your parenting, and your happiness. It’s not quite ready for primetime yet, but it will be when we launch on September 3rd. In the meantime, go here to join our waitlist to receive priority enrollment and pricing.
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