gratitude: 1 Article

This Thanksgiving, Focus on Gratitude

This Thanksgiving, take the opportunity to explore gratitude with your child. Here's a repost of an excerpt from the Note to Readers in Grow Grateful by Jon Lasser, PhD and Sage Foster-Lasser. Gratitude is a complex experience of thoughts and feelings that we have in relationships with others. Psychologists believe that gratitude is an important part of our overall well-being and that having gratitude leads to greater happiness and better interpersonal relationships. Most children develop thoughts and feelings related to gratitude through social learning (i.e., observing gratitude expressed by others) and by having their own experiences of gratitude. The development of gratitude also emerges with children’s moral development. Along with physical growth and language development comes greater sophistication in evaluating the behaviors of others and making value judgments. Coupled with the growth in perspective-taking, this newly developed moral reasoning allows children to think about what others may have done for them and consequently experience gratitude for others. There are lots of ways that adults can help children develop the cognitive, social, and emotional foundations of gratitude. The suggestions below can be adjusted to meet the varying developmental needs of children (e.g., an activity that calls for writing can be accomplished by drawing a picture or having the child dictate to the parent). Foster authentic gratitude. Gratitude isn’t meaningful when it’s not authentic, so try to avoid forcing expressions of thankfulness. Instead, encourage thoughtful reflection and allow grateful feelings to emerge. Rather than instructing your child to say thank you after a home-cooked meal, talk to them about the farming, cooking, and preparation processes that went into creating the meal. In this way, you can help your child evoke more genuine feelings of gratitude. Create grateful art. Get out some art materials and work with your child to make something creative around the theme of gratitude. For example, you and your child can cut out pictures from old magazines that represent things for which you are grateful and then glue to pictures to poster board. You can hang up your gratitude collage as a reminder of the things for which you’re thankful. When doing this, let your child select his or her own pictures without direction from you, as gratitude is individualized and personal. Make a gratitude visit.  This idea is adapted from the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Encourage your child to think of someone who has been kind and helpful to them. It may be a family member, a teacher, a neighbor, etc. Then ask your child to write (or dictate) a letter about how that person was helpful. Finally, take your child to deliver the letter of gratitude. This activity promotes not only reflection, but also the expression of feelings. Volunteer with your child.  Select a community volunteer project that welcomes children, and spend some time engaged in helping others with your child. You and your child are likely to meet new people, be helpful, and experience the gratitude

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This Thanksgiving, Focus on Gratitude 2021-11-18T15:50:14-05:00