Teaching our children about being grateful is not easy. It’s a difficult concept for younger children to understand.
Gratitude is a superfood for our physical, emotional, and social wellbeing and we can help our children wire their brains to stay in a gratitude state as often as possible.
The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in Fiji and around the world where people have lost their jobs, businesses being forced to shut down, the unemployment rate has increased, families suffering from financial difficulties and disruptions in our children’s education and uncertain future, it is important now more than ever for our children to understand and have gratitude.
So, what is Gratitude?
Gratitude is when we express appreciation and are thankful for the good things in our lives. We can be thankful for the things we receive, the people who surround us, and the fun things we get to experience and do. Gratitude goes much deeper than just saying please and thank you, it’s a mindset, one that you can develop and cultivate.
Gratitude is like a muscle and we can help our children build this muscle and make it stronger by actively practising it together. Expressing gratitude helps provide us with perspective, slows down our busy lives and creates a healthy sense of balance.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has a way of making adults and children feel like their world has turned upside down overnight. They struggle with feeling scared and feeling like everyone is overreacting. Teaching children to practice gratitude every day can help bring some stability into their lives by getting them to focus on what is good rather than what is uncertain or unpredictable.
Try incorporating a few tips below into your child’s everyday life to make them more grateful.
- Encourage your child to write a thank-you note
Expressing gratitude can help your child feel more connected to other people in their life. Small gestures like this can have a significant impact on their well-being. It also allows them to focus on what they appreciate about another person, which can bring them happiness and satisfaction. For example, your child can make thank you cards or write a note to frontline and other essential workers who are working day and night to curb the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Fiji.
- Teach them to appreciate people and things in life
Whether it’s a thumbs up in an online class meeting or a simple compliment during a telephone call, when your child lets someone know that they are grateful for them, it not only improves their mood but improves the mood of others as well. Be sure your child is generous with their gratitude and they will not only see improvement in their own mindset but also in those around them. Another example would be, have your child appreciate people that are going to work every day and helping run our town when a majority of us get to stay inside our homes and stay safe, such people are the mail persons, garbage collectors, road cleaners to name a few.
- Suggest writing a gratitude journal
Whether your child creates an online gratitude journal, writes things in an old notebook, or purchases a special gratitude journal, keeping track of the things they are grateful for has shown to improve wellness. It can be their own private space for reflection. Encouraging your child to express their gratitude can help build their resilience and create skills for life. When done together as a family it can also strengthen relationships and build some mindfulness into your day where everyone can record their daily highs and lows.
- Make your child express gratitude a daily habit
One way to make gratitude a regular part of your child’s day is to make it a habit for them to think of three things they are thankful for each day. While it doesn’t really matter whether they perform this exercise first thing in the morning or just before they go to bed, the important thing is that they are taking time and reflecting on what they are grateful for. Be it a new thing they got to learn from their class meeting or a skill that they got to develop on amidst online learning such as baking or cooking new culinary cuisines with their siblings.
- Encourage your child to give thanks for everyday things
Gratitude doesn’t have to be over the top or something significant. Talk to your child about basic necessities like food, shelter, water, clothing and health to help them appreciate what they already have as not many children have access to the same necessities as them right now.
✨ A Message from Quantum Space, Learning and Innovation Hub Team ✨
There is no doubt that living through a pandemic is challenging. But remember that life will return to normal – even if it is a new kind of normal. In the meantime, try to focus and look on the bright side during this difficult situation – it will be beneficial for you and your family’s mental and physical health.
What’s more, tapping into gratitude can help you solve problems, be more creative, build resilience, and strengthen your immune system. So be sure you have started to think about what you are grateful for right now. Doing so can help you cope with COVID-19 and boost your mood along the way.
“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie