Raising Grateful Children
By Amanda Peclat-Begin
Now that Halloween is finished, we often jump right into the winter holiday spirits! Christmas lights, Santa Clause at the mall, preparing for Hanukkah, and so much more that we often forget about what’s here in November…THANKSGIVING! While getting together with our families to eat a lot of delicious food is definitely something to look forward to, it can also be a time in which to teach your younger kiddos all about gratitude and being thankful.
Andrea Hussong and those with the Raising Grateful Children project from UNC Chapel Hill explored the idea of gratitude and the experiences we have in our families with gratitude.
They’ve broken down the experience of “gratitude” into four components:
1.) What are some things that we notice in our lives that we can be grateful for?
2.) How do we think about these things and why have we been given these things?
3.) How do we feel about the things that we have been given?
4.) What do we do to express appreciation, gratitude, and/or thankfulness for these things?
Adults and older children are likely to follow this Notice-Think-Feel-Do train of thought when it comes to gratitude and thankfulness, and it is important to help our younger family members to develop these skills as they grow and develop in order to foster experiences of genuine gratitude. Here are some questions you can ask your little one to spark the conversation about gratitude this holiday season!
NOTICE: What do you have in your life that you are grateful for? Have you received any gifts that you are grateful for? Are you grateful for other things, such as people caring about you, sharing their things, etc.?
THINK: Why do you think you received this gift? Do you think you received this gift (or item) because of something you did, or because they feel like they have to? (Answering “no” to questions like this might make feeling gratitude a little bit easier).
FEEL: Does it make you feel happy to receive this gift? What do you feel like on the inside? What about the gift makes you feel this way? (These questions can help connect positive emotions to these gifts they receive).
DO: Is there a way you want to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you get from receiving this gift make you want to share that feeling with someone else? (Prompting your kiddo with questions like this about their experience with thankfulness can help with connecting their experiences to action they take in the world).
Talking about gratitude this way may help your child connect deeper to these feelings of thanks, and hopefully in turn motivate other acts of genuine, meaningful gratitude towards others!
About the Author
Amanda Peclat-Begin is a current Masters student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Adler University in Chicago. She is also a Drama Therapy Student and Intern at the Center for Creative Arts Therapy. Amanda is a huge proponent of the healing power of narrative, play, and drama in a compassionate and empathetic environment while utilizing a social justice, culturally responsive, and trauma-informed approach with her clients. Amanda is an Arts Playschool instructor for the Downers Grove Programs.