Feeling grateful and counting your blessings are important. Learn about the benefits of fostering gratitude in children and how it can change your outlook on life.
Life can be rough, and not even in a major catastrophic way. Some months I don’t meet my goals, or money was extra tight, or I came down with the stomach flu.
It’s easy to mope and feel down, even comparing myself to others who seem to have it so easy. But then I remember to practice a great trick: gratitude.
Benefits of fostering gratitude in children
Because no doubt bad things have happened to me. And when they do, I try to focus not on what goes wrong, but with everything else that goes right.
And it turns out gratitude offers many benefits, especially in everyday life.
Gratitude reminds you that goodness exists in this world.
When terrible things happen, it’s so easy to feel like most of the world is just as bad. Or that there’s not enough good to balance the negativity in your life.
With gratitude, you remember that dwelling on bad things magnifies them. Relish little things like drinking a warm cup of tea. Remember the larger blessings you may have overlooked. This forces you to see that the good in your life usually outnumbers the bad.
You’re less likely to judge yourself or others.
Imagine feeling like you can never get ahead. You focus so much on what you don’t have that you compare yourself to others: “I wish I had money to buy even half the clothes she buys,” for instance.
But with gratitude, you remember how many good things you have going for you. Or that another person’s success isn’t a measure against your supposed failures. And that everyone has both good and bad things happening in their lives, even if it’s not plain to see.
Practicing gratitude gives your children something to model after.
I’ve long been a fan of being our kids’ role models. How can we emphasize to our children the importance of being thankful when we ourselves don’t do it?
Gratitude rubs off on your kids. You’ll notice they’ll say phrases like, “I’m so glad we have these crayons to color with.”
And watch how you complain about first-world problems. Sure, it’s fine to vent, but follow it up with something you’re grateful for: “Darn, the hot water is off today! Oh well, at least we have water coming in at all with the cold water.”
Gratitude offers a positive outlook on life.
Being aware of your blessings, you feel positive about your life, even when times are tough. When bad days happen, you’ll remember the amazing things that have turned out all right.
Explaining gratitude to a child
Just today, my five-year-old and I both came down with the stomach flu. We were both up at 1am and miserable the entire day. We missed watching my nephew’s high school musical of Les Miserables (my fave!). And my toddler twins weren’t used to seeing their mom so down and out.
Let’s just say the day was challenging. But with gratitude, I’m reminded that this is a small blip in what’s otherwise an awesome life I have. No one is immune to bad days. When they happen, gratitude reminds you that they’re rather small in the bigger picture.
In the spirit of gratitude, below are 10 things that happened this past week that I’m thankful for:
- I got my annual raise. I sorely needed this, especially as I try to raise kids on a tight budget. Every little bit helps!
- My mom prepared dinner when usually I’m scrambling to cook after school. Cooking is a challenge when you’ve got three kids all wanting your attention. Instead you’re standing in the kitchen cooking pasta. With the meal prepared, cooking our dinner that night was a breeze.
- I drink tea every morning. My work routine begins with drinking a cup of tea, all at my leisure.
- My husband came home early. What a nice treat to hear the keys jingling at the front door and seeing my husband come home early.
- That my boys genuinely get along with one another. Yes, they bicker like siblings do and want the same thing sometimes. But my husband and I have made it a priority that our kids get along. Best-friends-for-life get along. So far, it’s working. They do the sweetest things for one another on a regular basis. Things like being polite and handing a sad brother a favorite stuffed animal to feel better. Proud mama moment indeed!
- That my son’s stomach flu wasn’t crazy. Because I’m sure we have all dealt with crazy stomach flu disasters and clean ups. At one in the morning, it’s the last thing I would have wanted to deal with.
- We picked fresh lemons and oregano from my mother-in-law’s house. We visited grandma over the weekend and came home with a pail of lemons and oregano. So of course, I found recipes with those two ingredients. Can’t beat free ingredients fresh from a tree!
- That our potted spinach is growing. I took a stab at container gardening with spinach, and so far so good! The little guys are thriving well and I hope to harvest this batch as early as May 10. Oh, and we got free seeds of swiss chard from the farmers market, so we’re growing those, too!
- Free lunches at work. Frugal me brings a packed lunch to work every day, but special occasions sometimes means I get a free lunch! We had a bon voyage for one of our employees. And last week, my team worked hard on a presentation that earned us a few complimentary lunches.
- Hearing that other people like my blog. I sent this blog to a few folks for honest assessment, and so far the feedback has been more than positive. Not only that, but the suggestions are actually applicable and I plan to implement them soon.
And that’s just in one week! Imagine doing this regularly, remembering all the good that has happened to us. How much more positive we would be as we remember the bigger picture. How we’ll judge ourselves and others less on materialistic standards.
And how much of a role model we’d be for our kids, where they can see their parents practicing gratitude.
Learn more ways to benefit from gratitude:
- How to Teach Gratitude to Children So They’re Thankful for What They Have
- How to Raise a Non Materialistic Child
- Why Kids Lie and What To Do About It
- 9 Warning Signs You’re Raising a Spoiled Child
Your turn: What three things are you grateful for that happened this past week? How are you fostering gratitude in children?
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