Raising a Grateful Child Using a Gratitude Journal

Use a gratitude journal to teach your children thankfulnessMany of today’s children struggle to appreciate their lot in life.  With the overwhelming tendency for kids to be easily excited and stimulated, most children seem to want, want, want.  This can be extremely frustrating for parents.  More importantly, it can interfere with a child’s ability to cope when things don’t go his or her way.  Help your children develop gratitude by keeping a gratitude journal.

Research shows that gratitude brings many benefits to children and adolescents, including better grades, higher goals, fewer headaches and stomachaches, and increased satisfaction with relationships.  Additionally, grateful students tend to have higher GPAs whereas the most materialistic students (and less grateful) tend to experience lower grades, higher levels of envy, and less overall satisfaction with life.

The good news is that gratitude is teachable, but it starts at home with parents understanding that they play a huge role in their children’s gratitude, and realize that appreciation needs to be taught.

Help your children overcome what I call the Three E’s – entitlement, expectation, and envy.  Help them develop and maintain gratitude by encouraging them to keep a daily gratitude list.  Here are a few suggestions to get them started:

  • Have your children create their own gratitude journal by decorating and personalizing the cover of a purchased notebook; this can be a fun craft project.
  • Encourage your children to spend ten minutes every day writing three things they are grateful for in their journals.
  • Help your children focus on the details of their life, including things they might take for granted, by encouraging them to not write the same thing twice.
  • Encourage younger children to draw pictures of three things they are grateful for in their journals.
  • Invite your children to share their daily gratitude list with you at mealtime or before going to bed.

Your child’s gratitude list will evolve and mature with age.  Toddlers will squeal over purple crayons, chocolate graham crackers after lunch, and their favorite episode of Barney or Little Einsteins.  Teens will be thankful for holiday weekends, a day at the beach during summer break, and pimples disappearing before the first day of class.  Whatever their age, encourage your children to express their gratitude and remember that nothing is too big or small to be appreciated.  In other words, gratitude isn’t reserved solely for extravagant blessings.

Don’t forget to encourage your kids to find the silver lining in their challenges and obstacles.  Help them see the big picture when negative thoughts and feelings arise.  If your daughter has had a petty fight with her best friend and she is angry about it, help her remember that the fight is not permanent and what good friends they have been to each other.

The social scientists who are studying gratitude and the effects it can have are discovering what the ancient Greek and Roman philosophers already knew – that gratitude is an indispensable human virtue.  Help your children start developing this critical virtue today.

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Favorite Quote

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” John Milton

Contact Me

For inquiries and questions, please email me or call me at 281-795-8890. LivingWithGratitude.com is owned and operated by Kristen Clark and The Communication Leader located at 1702-B Grant Rd., Suite 411, Cypress, TX 77429; (713) 396-3393.