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Posted Nov 12, 2018
World Kindness Day is celebrated each year on November 13th. It began in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement. On this date, participants work towards making the world a kinder place by doing good deeds as individuals and as organizations. Over 28 nations around the world participate in this movement. But why?
Gratitude is an attribute that benefits the giver as much if not more than the receiver. Gratitude is linked to increased health, happiness, better self-control, and improved relationships.
As parents, this is an attribute we want our children to possess. Read on for the top gratitude activities for kids that you can start implementing today.
One of the best ways you can help develop gratitude in your kids is by keeping gratitude journals. It's up to you if you want your children to write in them every day, weekly or as the mood strikes. You could even have a family gratitude journal or make one for each member of the family.
This works well for any age group. Younger children can draw pictures of what they are thankful for. Teens can spend time journaling and expressing their thoughts and feelings.
Buy a standard notebook and spend time decorating the covers as a family. You can also find many free gratitude journal printables that you can stick in a binder. Have these journals in places where each child can access them easily. The act of writing down what they are grateful for will cultivate thankfulness. Also, re-reading past journal entries will bring back those feelings of gratitude.
Express Thanks to Loved Ones
Another positive way to instill gratitude in children is to encourage them to write thank you letters. These can be thank yous to friends and family members whom your children love or to people who did something kind for them.
For example, if your neighbor brought over a plate of cookies, the kids can write a thank you card or picture and deliver it. However, they don't have to have a specific reason to send a note of gratitude to someone. Explain that they can just express their gratitude to grandma for being so loving and mail it or drop it off.
Fill a Thankfulness Jar
Another way to help your family cultivate gratitude all year long is to fill a thankfulness jar. As often as you like, invite your family to write down something they are grateful for and place it in the jar. You can use a mason jar or something larger if you wish. Have your kids decorate the outside or use a simple bow around the neck to match your decor.
Keep the jar in a prominent location such as the fireplace mantle or coffee table. You could write on small cut-out hearts, post-its, or small scraps of paper. It's up to you!
Choose a date that you will empty the jar each year. It can be on Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day or another date that is meaningful to your family. Reviewing your family's entire year of thankfulness is sure to fill you with gratitude for all of your many blessings.
Say Three Good Things at Mealtimes
Make gratitude a part of your daily schedule by incorporating it into mealtimes. At dinner each day, go around the table and say three good things about your day. Looking for and reflecting on the positive things that happened over the course of the day wires our brains to be happier.
During clinical trials, writing down three good things a day or week was linked to feelings of increased happiness that lasted over six months after the experiment ended.
At first, it may be hard for everyone to think of three things, but it will get easier with practice. Remember, these three things don't have to be big to be meaningful. If someone held the door for you, gave you a friendly wave from across the lunch room or played with you at recess, these all count.
Feel free to adapt this to your family. Maybe dinner is not the best time; perhaps right before bed or first thing in the morning works better. If you feel some members of your family may be uncomfortable sharing with the group, you can suggest writing down three good things instead of saying them.
Do what works for your family and you will soon see a shift in everyone's ability to notice and recall things to be grateful for.
Model and Teach Gratitude
The single most important way you can teach kids gratitude is to model it yourself. Parents are the blueprint that children follow as they grow up. Model gratitude through your words, actions, and writing.
Make your kids the recipients of your expressions of gratitude often. This can mean leaving a small note on their bed, telling them what you are feeling grateful for, or buying a small gift to say thank you.
Another aspect of gratitude is community giving. Find meaningful ways to express gratitude for all you have by spreading goodness to those in need in your area.
The more you appreciate the goodness in your life, the higher the chances that your children will see and recognize the goodness in their own lives.
Bottom Line on Gratitude Activities for Kids
Remember, gratitude should not be reserved for one or two days out of the year. With a consistent focus on this attribute, it can become a core part of your children's personality that will serve them well now and throughout their lives.
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