Gratitude is the act of showing appreciation and being thankful.
Research shows that people who practice gratitude - who think about the good things in their life - are healthier and happier!
- Improve social connections and relationships
- Protect from stress and increases resilience
- Boost energy levels
- Increase self-esteem
- Adds a sense of meaning
Before Teaching Gratitude
- Start by explaining that there is physical health and mental health.
- For example, you might say something like: “When your throat hurts or you break a bone, you go to the doctor. Our throat and bones are part of our physical health. We do things to stay physically healthy, like eating foods that are good for us. Can you think of other things that help us stay physically healthy?”
- Children may have ideas like exercising, brushing teeth, wearing sunscreen, etc.
- Follow up with that while we may feel physically well one day, we might have an ache or pain or sore throat another day.
- Explain to them that the same thing happens with our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and feelings make up our mental health.
- Ask your child about times when they feel excited and happy and times when they may feel sad or confused. Be sure to share your own examples.
Remember that all feelings – excited, worried, happy, scared, unsure – are okay. One way to promote our mental health can be to remember what we are grateful for.
Download and use the handouts to help practice gratitude.
- Growing Our Gratitude can help you think of things that you’re grateful for. You can think of things in your environment, people in your life, or personal successes. Help children identify character traits (I work hard, I like to sing) instead of external or superficial things (I have the best shoes).
- We’ve also provided two different kinds of notecards that you can print and give to loved ones, friends or others that children want to express gratitude for.
- And you’ll find the 7 Days of Gratitude that can help your family create a daily habit of finding things to be grateful for. We know these kinds of daily practices are what truly makes an impact to our mental health. Consider talking about it over the dinner table. What did you learn from trying to write down things you were grateful for every day for a week?