Being Thankful for Gratitude: Tips for Instilling a Habit of Gratitude in Your Children
As the holidays draw near, you may be looking for ways to keep your children engaged and grateful, especially as we celebrate the big holidays from the safety of our homes rather than out and about like we might’ve done in previous years. As Poppy & Posie like to say, “It’s great to be grateful!” Even as the world continues to shift under our feet, there are still many things we can do with our children to help them explore their feelings and gratitude during these tricky times. Over at the Blossom Shoppe, Poppy & Posie are gearing up for Thanksgiving, reflecting on all of the things they have to be grateful for in Blossom Town, like flowers, friendship, and family. With the way your child’s world may have changed in these past few months, they may be struggling to find things for which to be grateful, but practicing and expressing gratitude can have immense benefits on their well-being and outlook on the ever- changing world around them. These tips can help instill gratitude in your children, helping them to create a more positive outlook on their world.
Don’t Be Afraid to Start Small
Good habits aren’t formed overnight, so don’t worry too much about starting with baby steps. FreedomSprout actually encourages parents to start small and then gradually move onto bigger practices once children have established habits in place. A few practices you can try include taking the time to talk about what you and your child were grateful for that day before bedtime or by expressing appreciation for different parts of your routine, such as bath time or dinner. This helps build strong habits without overwhelming children with new information or making them feel reluctant to take on the task.
Express Gratitude Often
Children learn from modeled behavior, and according to VeryWell, when parents say thank you often, children develop a pattern of doing so as well. Encourage older children and other adults in your household to say thank you often too, so that your children can have multiple people to model behavior from.
Encourage Your Child to Say “Thank You”
From saying thank you for snacks to encouraging siblings to thank one another for sharing or helping, encouraging your child to say thank you when the situation demands it is a good practice. According to VeryWell, asking your children questions like “What do we say to your brother for sharing?” can at first seem ineffective since it seems like you’re only reminding your child to do it, but doing so can in fact help instill good patterns and behaviors in your children.
Create “Thankful” Routines
Creating patterns and routines is another way to instill gratitude in children. Some practices, like saying what you’re grateful for during dinner every night—and not just on Thanksgiving—or having a dedicated time on Sunday to reflect on what you and your children were thankful for during the previous week can make gratitude a routine expression, rather than something only thought about around the holidays.
Encourage Your Children to Give Back
Gratitude works both ways. According to the Huffington Post, when kids give back—whether through donations or by completing service for others—they are less likely to take things for granted. They learn the value of things like health, family, and happiness while contributing to someone else’s good fortune.
According to VeryWell Family, role-play is an effective tool to use to instill good habits in children and when teaching your child ways to express gratitude. Parents can role-play situations in which children can practice saying thank you for gifts or favors. From there, parents can move onto exercises that allow children to practice expressing appreciation, especially when receiving help from others. By role-playing these scenarios, children can walk away with the confidence needed to practice these habits in real life.
Continue the Conversation
Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author, recommends going further in talking about gratitude with our children. Once they have an established habit of saying thank you, parents can take it one step further by asking “gratitude” questions, such as “how does saying thank you make you feel?” or “how did your friend react when you told her thank you?” These questions help children analyze the areas in life they are grateful for while cultivating a space to recognize the different components of gratitude.
There are many books created specifically to teach children the benefits of expressing gratitude and appreciation for the world around them, whether overt or subtle. In The Blossom Shoppe, Poppy & Posie are grateful for their mother’s flower shop, but when the shop might close, they have to find a way to get the rest of the townspeople to see why the shop and color and flowers are so magical. In other words, they have to find a way for people to be grateful for the wonderful things around them. This is just one example of how books can encourage gratitude for the things in our lives in children.
Similarly to reading books, watching various forms of media can help your children find their voice in expressing their gratitude. Poppy & Posie have numerous songs and videos to choose from that can help with this. Notably, their song Family, Friends, and Flowers features the sisters expressing appreciation for all the things around them, from flowers and birthday parties to their friends and family. It’s a great song to share with your children when building a gratitude routine.
Complete Gratitude Projects and Activities
A combination of reflection, activities, and discussion can help bring your child’s gratitude and positivity to the forefront, just in time for the most thankful holiday of all. Luckily, Blossom has plenty of activities to help your child express their gratitude, including Poppy & Posie’s Thankful Flowers, an activity perfect for celebrating Thanksgiving at home. To view the activity, check out Poppy & Posie’s Thanksgiving Crafts for Kids video below!
As we continue to navigate the coronavirus pandemic, finding ways to instill gratitude in our children is important now more than ever. Their world may have changed significantly, and may continue to change as we learn to live in this new world, but instilling gratitude and taking up these practices, whichever work best for you and your family, can help children remember that despite these changes, there are still many things for which we can be grateful.
Have a BLOSSOM Thanksgiving!
The work of Dr. Amy Morin