My daughter recently turned two and we spent a whole weekend celebrating our curly-haired lady. While fully immersed in cake, gifts, balloons and more, I couldn’t help but reflect on the importance of instilling gratitude in our littles. Sure, I made Nora stop after each gift to thank her guests, and color thank you cards after the party was over, but, how do we truly help our children understand gratitude? How can we help them not only appreciate all they have, but also live in the moment rather than continually seeking more?
And, as things typically do, my personal life melted into my professional life when I attended a conference following our busy birthday weekend. The first speaker of the day spoke about gratitude and how to bring it to the forefront of our everyday lives. The takeaway? Gratitude is a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it gets.
If we want our kids to eat healthy, we have to eat healthy ourselves. Looking for them to be polite? Say please, you’re welcome and excuse me! When we want them to pick up after themselves, we show them how it’s done. We, as parents, try our best to model the behavior we hope our children will eventually showcase. And, gratitude is no different.
So, I’ve started a gratitude journal. This essentially means I’ve been writing down one thing every day that I’m thankful for (it admittedly mentions coffee a lot!). Further, I’m vocalizing the things I record to both my husband and my littles – “Weston, I am thankful for your chubby cheeks and those 3:00 am kisses.” My hope is that as my gratitude muscles get stronger, so will my family’s.
A previous version of this post appeared on St. Luke's Birth Care Center.