With gratitude, you acknowledge the goodness in your life. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Hundreds of studies have documented the social, physical, and psychological benefits of gratitude.
Emma Seppala, Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University, lists many benefits to gratitude practice. Benefits such as:
- increased happiness
- protection from stress and negativity
- improved social intelligence
- improved relationships
- and even improved health
How about that? It certainly seems that gratitude practice has the potential to facilitate positive change.
We started gratitude practice with my son well over a year ago and we still practice every day just before bedtime. This fun little celebration gives us the warm fuzzies, and makes the process of actually going to bed so much easier.
Here’s one more playful mindfulness activity for daily gratitude. You can easily integrated it into your day-to-day family life.
Mindfulness Activities For Children: Daily Gratitude
Purpose: Gratitude, Positivity, and Reflection
Best for: Ages 8+
What you need: A small dry-erase, chalkboard, or a piece of paper and a pen
Help the child show gratitude regularly by incorporating this activity into his daily routine. It’s best to practice this exercise in the evening when he has had a full day of experiences to reflect upon.
Most importantly, don’t turn this routine into a chore: it should be fun.
Prior to starting the daily gratitude routine, consider working with the child to decorate the dry erase board or chalkboard on which he’ll share his gratitude sentences. This will help him feel involved in the exercise from the very beginning. Then, hang the board somewhere accessible: in the child’s bedroom, on his door, or on the refrigerator. You can do this with a piece of paper too, simply use a fridge magnet to attach the paper to the refrigerator.
Next, have a conversation about gratitude. Model by sharing something you’re grateful for, and explain why you have gratitude for that particular thing. Stress the importance of showing gratitude for non-material items (instead, model by showing your gratitude for another person, opportunity or experience). Write your gratitude sentence on the dry erase board. After you’ve shown him what to do, tell the child it’s his turn.
If he needs assistance writing, help by giving him a sentence starter. For example, you can write something such as, “Today, I’m grateful for ___________________.” and have him fill in the blank. Leave his gratitude sentence up until the next day, when he will create a new one.
To make this exercise even more practical, you can try it without a chalkboard. Simply ask your child to verbally list five things he is thankful for, and tell him to spend a minute thinking about each item on his list. This exercise can be used to help him calm down on his own, too.
To help him put it into practice, ask your child to try recall three things he is thankful for the next time he is sad, afraid or angry. Ask him to notice how thinking about those things makes him feel. Are those thoughts comforting? It’s likely he’ll say yes.
May you be happy and healthy!
If you are new to mindfulness with children we recommend that you read our guide: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
Chris Bergstrom is a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is trained by Mindful Schools to teach mindfulness to students in K-12 (but not associated with MS) and a member of the American Mindfulness Research Association. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.