About a year ago, I started a gratitude practice for myself. It helped me find and focus on happiness and thankfulness, and it has absolutely changed my outlook on life. So it’s sort of embarrassing to admit that I didn’t think of introducing my kids to gratitude until very recently.
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Of course, we talk a lot in our house about being thankful for what we have, thanking God every day for the blessings he’s given us, and using manners. But buying my 6 year old a gratitude journal didn’t ever occur to me. I guess in my head, journals and actively seeking out things to be grateful for was an “adult” thing.
As Harlyn began first grade this year, things seemed to be a bit tough on her. She wasn’t as happy and spunky as usual, and it was really bothering me. As I began to really study her love language and figure out that she was craving quality time from me (you can read my post about children’s love languages HERE), I had another realization: she would be happier not only with more time with me, but also by concentrating on all the good things in her life. So I thought to myself, why not use our daily time together to fill out gratitude journals? I brought this idea up to her, she was on board, and we picked out journals on Amazon.
I’m really happy with the 3 Minute Gratitude journal for kids because it’s simple and quick. Harlyn’s still learning to read/write/spell, so we do spend longer than 3 minutes, but it’s great so far!
I picked out the Gratitude Finder–which is really for any age. I love bright, fun, colorful–so this spoke to me 😉 Plus my inner middle-schooler liked that it had stickers!
Since we got our journals, we’ve been hunkering down every evening and writing together. We talk about our days and share what we wrote down. Some nights, Harlyn finds it hard to find things to be thankful for, so we have to think about the good things that happened during her day. My guess is that as time goes on, her brain will start to do exactly what everyone’s does when they practice gratitude…she’ll automatically start to look for things she can write down later that day.
So, how can we guide our kids in finding gratitude?
Get in the habit of asking about the good parts of their day.
Ask who made them happy today.
Share the best and worst parts of everyone’s day (dinner time or bedtime work well if there’s no gratitude journal!).
For young kids: ask who they played with or what they learned (we do this with our 3 year old)
Christians: help them thank God for their blessings (list them)
Buy them a journal, of course!
We’ve really been impressed with Harlyn’s willingness and excitement to take on something we both have been doing for awhile with great results. Our mindsets have shifted and become way more positive and we’re excited to see the same in Harlyn!