By: Meghan S. Phillips
Gratefulness and thankfulness are both positive feelings and important factors when it comes to raising happy, responsible and authentic kids. When we think positively we attract more positive, which leads to attracting more abundance. And who doesn’t want a little of that?
Getting in the space of feeling grateful can help develop the habit of naturally seeing the silver lining, despite what you are going through. Surprisingly, it didn’t dawn on me until recently to start talking to my kids about the practice of gratitude.
Some families do this around the dinner table. They talk about their day, things they learned or experienced and what they were thankful for. Sadly, with sports and other activities, we don’t always all eat together, but when we do, we try and talk about this.
I have tried to make this into a nightly routine with both my kids. Right before bed, when it’s quiet, I ask them to tell me three things they were grateful for today. Sometimes I switch it up and ask them what the best thing about the day was for them. My son says it out loud and then we have a quick conversation about it. My daughter writes it down in a notebook. This gets them thinking back on their day.
We talk about our choices from the day too. Could we have done anything differently? Then I remind them that we have a choice in how we handle things. If we hang onto anger about a situation it’s because we are choosing to do that. Are there nights when we are busy and get to bed late and we skip this? Of course! But we try most nights to do this. It is not about perfection. It’s about shifting thinking. Being able to see the positive things in our life and what we do have, rather then focusing on the things we don’t.
Just having a conversation about what we are thankful for is a great way to start. For older kids, having them start a gratitude journal deepens the experience. There is something powerful about writing things down. Plus, it’s nice to be able to look back and re-read what they have written. Especially when they are having a particularly difficult day.
We are in the digital age. Let’s face it. Most kids today have a phone. And sadly, it is always on them. I have an app on my phone where I write 3-5 things everyday that I am thankful for. It is set up like a calendar and you write in the space for that day. It saves them from day to day so you can look back. The nice part about doing it on your phone is that you can do it anywhere. I like to do this in the morning. I feel it sets the tone for the day. When I forget, I can take two minutes at work and type it right in my phone. I had my daughter put this on her phone too. There are tons of gratitude apps. You have to find the one that works for you.
The hope is that by getting into the habit of practicing gratitude, that gratitude would become an automatic response to what ever was coming your child’s way. The truth is, life throws you curve balls. But no matter what is going on or happening in your life or your child’s life, you can always find SOMETHING (even if it’s small) to be grateful and thankful for.
Meghan Phillips, L-MSW is a school social worker in an elementary school where she works with kids and their parents. Meghan is writing a book about how parents can make small shifts in parenting that will help children to become in-tune with their authentic selves and live in alignment with their true purpose and desires. Meghan lives on Eastern Long Island, NY with her husband and two children. www.meghansphillips.com