Davina here - Recently I have noticed Elfie has started to forget to say thank you and I keep on finding myself saying ‘ Don’t forget to say thank you’ or ‘what do you say’. I really don’t want to force Elfie to say ‘thank you’ or ‘please’ and would much rather she said it because she meant it and that she learnt it through observing my behaviour, which by the way I really try hard at - if you ever see me on a bus you will hear me thank the bus driver every time and I always try to send thank you notes for presents and kind gestures (you may have seen my Pass it On Thank you Tin tutorial recently).
I have been thinking a lot about ways to try and teach Elfie about gratitude other than just trying hard to say thank you whenever I can because gratitude is more than just politeness - it is a deep genuine feeling of thankfulness, something, which makes you feel good and others around you too. I plan to write a post in more depth soon about the value of gratitude and different ways to help your child and yourself tap into it but for now I want to share with you one simple and effective idea - the ‘Gratitude Jar’ or ‘Thank You For.. Jar’ (the second option might be easier for kids to understand).
How to use the Gratitude Jar:
The concept is easy and well practiced with Action for Happiness advocating it and many people all over the world putting it to good use. All you do is simply think about 3 things you are grateful for each day and write them down and put them in the jar (so you can review them if you wish at a later date). Its best to do this at the end of the day so you can reflect on what you are grateful for that whole day. At first you might think about big things in your life - like family and health but soon if you do it everyday it can become more about things you are grateful for that day - the little things. It can also be really lovely to share your thoughts with your partner, friends or children - perhaps through choosing one card each to read out.
The important thing is that not only is it a nice thing to do but it actually effects the way our brain works. At first we have to consciously think positively about 3 things we are grateful for that day but then quickly our brain begins to think more positively and gets into a habit of feeling gratitude. According to Action for Happiness in tests, people who tried it each night for just one week were happier and less depressed one month, three months and six months later.
How to make a Gratitude Jar:
This is a super quick and easy make. All you need is a clean large jar and someway to write 'Gratitude' or 'Thank You for." on it. You could use:
- Paper and washi tape (like I did)
- Just washi tape that you write directly onto
- Dymo embossing tape
- Liquid chalk
- Etching - see out guest tutorial here on etching glass jars by Alexis from Something I made
- Chalk board labels or paint (use masking tape to make clean shape)
Notes on using Gratitude Jar with small children:
I have tried it with Elfie and she didn’t really understand quite what I was asking her to do - I think she is still a little young but then I asked her to tell me her favourite thing of the day and she grasped that idea really well so now I ask her at bath time what her favourite part of the day was and I write it down for her. This weekend I might try and get her to draw her favourite thing of the day. I think with young children just one thing a day is enough - but for older kids and adults three works really well.
Have you got any strategies to help encourage yourself or your kids to feel gratitude? I’d love to hear any ideas for my next post on 10 ways to encourage feelings of gratitude.
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