2 June 2017
Earlier this year the Herald Sun published an article titled ‘Parents Face Entitled Kid Epidemic’. The author describes what we have all observed - children who have so much but feel they deserve or need more. While this is a complex problem requiring more than a simplistic answer, the author suggests that gratitude is an important element in helping children to have a more balanced life perspective.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what we have or receive. It is a conscious decision to count your blessings. Gratitude for things in our past helps us to have positive memories of past blessing. Gratitude in the present helps us not to take things for granted and looking forward with gratitude fills us with hope. Research by Martin Seligman tested the impact of many positive psychology interventions on the happiness of participants. When participants wrote a letter of gratitude to a person of significance, and then read the letter to that person, their happiness increased significantly. This boost in happiness had benefits that lasted for a month. Recent research has also shown gratitude to have a positive impact on our relationships, physical health, levels of empathy, sleep patterns, optimism and resilience. So how do we help our children to practise gratitude? Here are some fun ideas to include in your family routines: Make a time each day when your family shares 3 things they are grateful for. This could be at a mealtime, while driving in the car or a bedtime ritual. This is a great way to reinforce the positives and develop a ‘glass half full’ mentality.
Model gratitude. Share with your child why you’re grateful for them! This is such a great way to affirm positive attributes and behaviour, and boost self-esteem. Limit the stuff you give your kids. We are far more grateful for things we have worked for or waited for.
Look for ways to serve and help. When children are encouraged to help others who are in need, they become far more aware of their own blessings. The sense of helping others also builds happiness and resilience.
Give gratitude a context. We believe that ‘Every good and perfect gift is from God.’ (James 1:17) Gratitude to God helps us develop a positive view of ourselves as His precious children.
“The miracle of gratitude is that it shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” (Dr Robert Holden)
Why not change the world you see?
Head of Primary