Now is a time when everything feels relentlessly challenging and tiring. This leads us to feel defeated, stressed, and depressed. Science has found the best way to fight these feelings is with gratitude. Gratitude simply means thanks and appreciation. Research has shown that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness and better health.
HealthStart helps children to build strong brains and bodies so they can reach their full potential and contribute to our communities. While good nutrition and physical activity are a big part of that, we must also look at practices that improve our social and emotional wellbeing. That is where gratitude comes in. We know that kids form habits by the age of 5 so it is never too early to start practicing gratitude in small and big ways to promote a healthy mind and body.
Benefits of Gratitude
One of the many benefits of practicing gratitude is a positive mindset. This translates to a number of benefits like increased self-esteem, compassion for others, and overall happiness. All of these things lead kids to have a better attitude towards school and their families, as well as reduced stress and better sense of self. In addition, gratitude can increase optimism and encourage kids to be more present and mindful in their day to day lives. Gratitude turns a negative thought into a positive one.
Children often fail to understand how or what it took to prepare a good meal or give them a present that can result in a lack of appreciation and satisfaction with opportunities and gifts they are given. Expressing thanks helps kids to be happier with what they have instead of always wanting or needing something more. A little gratitude goes a long way!
Practicing gratitude can be as simple as writing down three things you are grateful for each day, but there are lots of ways to help your kids express a little thanks. Below are 5 ways to get you started.
1. Share what you are thankful for each night before bed.
Sharing gratitude right before bed promotes relaxation and better sleep.
2. Start a gratitude jar.
Write down one thing each day on a piece of paper and add it to your gratitude jar. At the end of the month go back through them all together and see all the wonderful blessings the month has brought.
3. Take gratitude walks.
Take some time to slow down, get outside, and appreciate the beauty around you.
4. Encourage kids to give back.
Sign up as a family to volunteer or help a friend in need.
5. Write thank you notes together.
Thank you notes are so personal and special. Along with writing a note, inspire your kids to draw or color something as a thank you.
For more ideas and gratitude resources check out the link below!
Eidens, Alexandra. “How to Teach Children to Be Grateful.” Big Life Journal, 16 November, 2017, https://biglifejournal.com/blogs/blog/grateful-children-printable-challenge
Gordon, Tanuka. “Gratitude Journal: Self-compassion for my littles in the new year.” Mindful Littles, 3 January, 2017, https://mindfullittles.org/gratitude-journal-self-compassion-for-my-littles-in-the-new-year/?gclid=CjwKCAiA5o3vBRBUEiwA9PVzagS6e4SIVPVN6DGRrMlUj6xNDlyp9GeXIDQKhpLbX_AGagKyGkj3sxoC7DkQAvD_BwE
Reiser, Andrea. “11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids.” HuffPost, 7 April, 2014,