A child’s brain is constantly developing, taking in the actions of everyone around him. From the time he’s born, it’s up to you to teach your child gratitude. Harvard Medical School states that, among many things, “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions…and build strong relationships.” The authors of Making Grateful Kids: The Science of Building Character, state that if there was something that “got kids to behave better, improve their grades, feel happier and avoid riskier behaviors,” that would be gratitude.
Here are some fun activities for families to help instill gratefulness in your child:
1. Get in the practice of thank you notes.
For preschoolers this can be a simple drawing or something that expresses their creativity. For elementary aged children it can be a hand-drawn a picture and a brief note that simply says “Thank you for being so kind.” To help make this a habit, keep a basket filled with card making supplies such as construction paper and crayons. Try dedicating a time once a week to write a thank you note to someone. It could be a teacher, a bus driver or even the mailman. This will get your child in the mindset of always looking for something to be grateful for and recognizing and thanking those important people in your life.
2. Create a gratitude tree.
Get a large piece of poster board or foam board and draw a tree trunk with branches. Have your child color in the tree trunk using crayons or markers. Using various colors of construction paper (green, orange, brown, red, yellow) cut out leaf shapes. Each day after school help your child think of something they were grateful for that day, let them write it or draw it on the leaf (or you can write it for them) and then glue it to the tree branches. Keep this in a visible location so that it is a constant reminder of the things your family is grateful for.
3. Bake treats or homemade items.
Who doesn’t like a homemade treat? Once a month plan a “Gratitude Delivery Day” to deliver these treats to the person you and your child have chosen: a neighbor, the school secretary, the front desk staff at the dentist office. This is an activity that will enable your child to see just how happy this small act of gratitude can make another person.
Practicing gratitude can easily become a habit and a regular part of your child’s life with these simple tips. Pick one of these after school activities and start reaping the rewards of sharing gratitude with others.
Read about our Stonewall Day Care Curriculum to learn about our early childhood education program.
Children ages 6 weeks to 12 years age can join Stonewall Day Care Center.
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