Written by: Melissa Pinn, LMFT
The holidays are supposed to be a time for giving thanks and appreciating the people in our lives. But the busyness of the holidays can give way to stress and worry. Adopting and modeling for our children an attitude of gratitude during the holidays and all year long can help alleviate stress and worry.
Here are 4 ways to help foster Gratitude in our children during the holidays and beyond:
Savor the Small Stuff. Our brains are wired to get stuck on negative events that happen in our lives. We can work to overcome the stickiness of negativity by helping our children to notice the good things in life. Slow down and help them attend to what’s going on around them. PAUSE and take in the beauty of a colorful flower. APPRECIATE a kind “hello” from a stranger walking past. LISTEN to the sound of birds chirping.
Show Appreciation. Our children may not always remember what we say but they are always observing what we do. Modeling a quick thank you or taking a moment to check in with your child and ask them how they are doing can go a long way to help build gratitude.
Encourage a Helping Mindset. Helping other’s and being kind are two components needed to build gratitude in children. When children can be a helper, they naturally feel more connected to those they help. This connection helps them develop strong relationship with others. A great way to teach this is by encouraging your child to think about those they share space with and understand their perspective, as well as modeling this through your own relationships with other's.
Make Gratitude a Habit. Start a daily practice by writing or talking about one thing each family member is grateful for every day. When we adopt an attitude of gratitude no matter whether we are having a good day or a bad day it can put into perspective the size of problem we are facing. You and your child will be better equipped to navigate these challenges with a calm that practicing gratitude can bring.