It's November and Thanksgiving is right around the corner, so I thought it would be a great time to write about the topic of gratitude. Gratitude is such an important thing to cultivate in young children from an early age.
Many studies show that by practicing gratitude, we become happier human beings. We achieve this when we focus on all of the blessings and positive things in our lives, not all the things that are missing and wrong.
As parents, we can cultivate a sense of gratitude in children by practicing gratitude ourselves, and one great way to do this as a family is with the tradition of a "Gratitude Jar."
This is a ritual many families, including my own, have practiced with great success. Some families like to make this a New Year’s tradition, but I also think Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to start a new jar and review everything you were grateful for in the past year (more on this later). I know that some of you may be in other countries that don't have a Thanksgiving Day, in which case you may want to find the holiday or time of year that works best for you.
So what is a gratitude jar and how do you start one?
A Gratitude Jar is simply a container where family members can deposit written notes with things they’re grateful for! You’ll want to find a glass jar, or even a basket.
I like a glass jar because you can see all the little slips of paper with the gratitude notes filling up which is an exciting process for a young child. I recommend putting it in a prominent place in your kitchen or a living room: somewhere your family is reminded of it every day.
You can have strips of colored paper beside it, cut out and ready to write on. Family members can use the slips to write down something he or she is grateful for that day, whether it's “picking fresh strawberries today“ or "the nice man in the grocery store who smiled at me."
I recommend that you establish a regular time for adding notes to the jar. It could be once a week or even every day, perhaps during the family dinner or
before bed. Then, on the next Thanksgiving (or at the end of the year, depending on when you start yours), you can pull out each slip of paper and read them together.
For instance, here's one I wrote: "I'm grateful that my accident allowed me to realize how many caring family members and friends I have in my life." Earlier this year I was in an accident and hospitalized for a few weeks, and it was very moving to me to realize how blessed I was to have so many wonderful, caring people in my life who helped me.
So I hope that gives you an idea for a new tradition you can introduce into your family! Let me know if it's something that you might try or that you've already been doing.
May your days always be filled with blessings and much gratitude this holiday season!