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Gratefuls and Grumbles: Helping kids develop an attitude of gratitude

Research shows that young people who approach life with an attitude of gratitude experience many benefits. The benefits of being grateful include mental wellness, school success, generosity, and even physical health.

While approaching life with an attitude of gratitude isn't something we are born with, it can be a simple practice to incorporate into daily life. Even very young children can begin to learn skills and practices that will help them move through life with an appreciative mindset.

Yes, teaching gratitude even during COVID

Teaching gratitude to your children during the COVID-19 pandemic can be challenging, especially during key stages of intellectual, social and emotional development. Your kids may be frustrated by changes in their routines, missing meaningful life events, no playtime with their friends and learning from home. That’s why it’s important to remind them of all the things they should be grateful for despite uncertainties caused by the virus. It’s important to empathize with our kids while also reminding them how lucky we are and how grateful they should be. Some kids in our country and in other parts of the world don’t have access to essential health services or technology enabling them to stay connected and continue their education. Your kids can still socialize with friends virtually, watch their favorite shows, play more video games and spend quality time with their family. Kids still have a lot to be grateful for and there are fun ways to reinforce gratitude.

Gratitude Activities

One way to help teach the concept of gratitude, and ways to incorporate it into everyday life, is through an activity called GRATEFULS and GRUMBLES. Here's how it works in three simple steps:

  1. Ask your child to share something for which he or she is thankful—a GRATEFUL.
  2. Ask them to share something that's difficult or frustrating—a GRUMBLE.
  3. Talk about both the gratefuls and the grumbles.

Let your child know that somedays it will be hard to think of a grateful and other days it will be hard to come up with a grumble—and that's okay. It's good to talk about each and the good news is we get to start each day fresh.

Also consider making a Gratitude Jar to get kids in the gratitude spirit. This is a fun, creative family project. Just follow these steps:

  • Clean out a glass jar with a lid.
  • Decorate it in any way you like.
  • Every day or whenever you feel inspired, invite each family member to say aloud something they are grateful for and put a coin (penny, nickel, quarter) in the jar.
  • When the Gratitude Jar is full, take out the money and donate it to a cause or organization you want to support.

This gratitude activity not only reminds young people of the things they are grateful for, it teaches them the practice of sharing their good fortune with others. Alternatively, instead of putting money in the jar, family members can write their gratefuls on slips of paper that can be pulled out and read whenever a reminder is needed!

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