8 Ways Gratitude Has Helped My Child
So we talk all the time about how gratitude is really great for kids but what does that mean in a practical sense? Here is how it has helped my 10 year old and why I love it so much!
1. Reduced aggression
Talking about how to manage, and embrace emotions, and using gratitude as a tool to find the positives and flipping moods he is able to self-regulate and control those overwhelming emotions much more effectively.
2. Enhanced empathy for others
Focusing on feelings of gratitude towards other people has allowed my child to see what others give up to help him, whether it is their time or something physical like a toy. It has helped him to be able to put himself in their shoes and see things from other people’s perspectives.
3. Stronger Connections
Making a more conscious effort to thank my child for the little things, like when he makes his bed, or hangs his towel up (!) he feels seen. Sometimes I put notes in his lunch box telling him I appreciate him and he now leaves me little notes like in my work diary or even in the search bar on Google saying “I love you Mummy!”
4. Improved self-esteem
Being able to intentionally notice the ways other people have been good to him for no reason other than to help him, has really helped him to develop a stronger sense of self-worth. Clearly other people think he is worth it so he started believing more in himself as a result.
5. Increase in confidence
Focusing on the positive things about himself - his strengths and abilities - rather than what he is not good at, has increased his confidence in himself.
6. Improved Resilience
Learning to focus on the positive things in his life and what is going right, even when they go wrong, has helped him to bounce back after a disappointment or setback and cope during times of adversity.
7. More positive mindset
Gratitude helps to retrain your brain to notice the positives all around you, and I have noticed more and more his change in mindset from one that used to lean towards the negative. This has definitely gotten easier for him the more he does it. He faces situations with less anxiety and much more confidence.
8. Less materialistic
Because he is able to now easily see what he already has, he is less likely to focus on what he doesn’t. The things that come up again and again in his gratitude journal is friends, family and pets, rather than the latest game or new thing, so having the ability to reflect on past journal entries has really reinforced this.
Here are the main things we do as a family to bring more gratitude into our lives that are really simple and can be easily incorporated into your family too!
- We write in our gratitude journals regularly – sometimes we all sit down together to do this, especially if I see one of my children really struggling with something.
- During dinner time the conversation is focused around what went right that day, or what was something kind that someone did for you, or what was something awesome that happened that day.
- We say thank you often! Even for the little things and even when we aren’t particularly feeling it!
- We practice kindness both in the home for each other, and outside of it by donating where we can, helping neighbours, holding doors open, letting people into the queue. It doesn’t need to be mind-blowing for the positive effects to rub off onto our kids.
- We keep a happiness jar – everyday, or as often as possible, write down something you are grateful for, or something that made you happy, on a piece of paper and pop it in the jar. At the end of a certain period, you could do it every month or once a year on New Years Eve read out all the messages.
For more information on the benefits of gratitude check out The Science.