4 Ways to Help Your Child Practice Gratitude and Increase Resilience

As I reflect on the days that have passed, the start of a new year and how quickly it’s already gone by,  it’s brought me to a place a gratitude. At the same time, I’ve noticed how many have come down so quickly off the “holiday high” and lost sight of what it means to truly be grateful.

Each year, at the end of November, the Thanksgiving holiday kicks off a season of gratitude and giving. In just a matter of weeks, everyone we know instantly falls into an absolute frenzy of positivity, which, by the way, I absolutely LOVE, but at the same time, must admit, feels a little weird.????

Everyone loves this time of year because gratitude and giving naturally feel good. 

Even those who don’t celebrate or honor the traditional American winter holidays experience the effects of having such good vibes in the air everywhere they go. 

While this is all wonderful, I can’t help but think?? What would the world (or our country, specifically) be like if people were as grateful and giving as they are this time of year all year round? 

Would there be less hate, substance abuse, mental illness, bullying, crime and every other negative thing that happens?!

Or even if we just think about our own families and households? How would things be different if everyone was so positive, grateful, thoughtful and giving day in and day out? That would be amazing, right?!

This is definitely something for us to think about.

We all know why everyone is so happy during the holidays. It feels good to give and receive acts of kindness no matter how big or small! This benefits the giver and receiver!

And being thankful, showing gratitude for even the little things in our lives, creates a unique sense of peace within and brings us a feeling of joy ???? that no one can take away (unless we allow them to, that is).

So how does this connect to resilience? 

As parents, we go through a LOT! 

It’s not easy being a mom or dad! And depending on your child, you may feel pushed over the edge at times!

And it’s not just about us parents, but our poor children who have to go through SO MUCH MORE than we did at their age. Life can be downright HARD, if you’re not equipped with tools for survival and success!

I want you to ask yourself this question:

When times get tough, what are you naturally inclined to do? 

Are you typically negative or positive?

Research shows that when things go wrong, we, as humans, automatically revert to all the negative things that ever happened to us and in our minds, we conjure up everything we possibly can to make us feel even worse than we’re already feeling in the moment. This is a result of what psychologists refer to as Negative Bias.

Some of us look for negative things EVEN when good things are happening!!! When you think about it, this is absolutely absurd! But it’s the way our minds work.

This is true for adults just as much as it is for children. 

I find this all very fascinating! Our minds are amazing works of art that are extremely powerful, yet dangerous, if we’re not in control.

So how can you stay in control? 

What if, when life hits you hard, you could instead, take control of your thoughts and focus on all the things you’re grateful for just for a moment and, if possible, write them down?

Then, follow that up with a random act of kindness, like sending a text to someone you love and miss to let them know, even if you’re in tears or just not 100% in the mood? 

I can’t guarantee you that you’ll instantly go floating on cloud 9, but you’ll definitely prevent yourself from falling into that slump of misery and depression that you would have been in had you let your negative thoughts take over. 

And hey, I know this sounds easier said than done. Trust me, I’ve been through a lot in life- more than I’d wish on my worst enemy (That’s if I had one and even if I did, I wouldn’t, because after all, the goal is to stay positive, right?). 

But this has worked for me, my children and many others and it’s one of the keys to living a happy, positive, fulfilled life. ????

Practicing gratitude daily is the secret to making this really work. Here are some of my favorite ways to work gratitude into my day. You can add them to your routine and teach your child to do them, too!

  1. Morning and Evening Gratitude Journaling: Keep a journal next to your bed. Before you get started with your day, list 3 things you’re grateful for. You can do the same at night right before bed. Reflect on your day, any lessons learned, kindness you experienced, the little things you often fail to remember, people who made a small difference.
  2. Mention 3 things you’re grateful for each day at dinner: Make a list of things you’re grateful for every day. It could be something as simple as I’m grateful for my assistant who helped me finish that big project yesterday. For kids, it might be that they’re grateful for the lunch you packed, the art teacher who showed them a new technique at school or their coach who’s always pushing them to do their best.
  3. Say thank you more often: When you’re out shopping at a store or eating out at a restaurant, thank those who serve and helped you and encourage your child to do this more often, as well.
  4. Focus on the present: Life moves so quickly, but if you try harder to slow things down and place your awareness on being at peace and content in where you are at every moment throughout your day, you’ll find it easier to let go and receive, since you can’t change the past and have know idea what the future will bring, anyway.

Simply being present and focused on the moment you’re in, being grateful for the air you’re allowed to breathe is enough in itself. No matter how challenging life may be, every minute we’re provided on this earth is a chance to make a difference. ????

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