At Genius, we believe teaching children to be thankful is so important. Expressing thanks is one of the easiest ways to improve your mood and outlook for the day. In a nutshell, teaching gratitude allows them to look at situations in a positive way rather than a negative one.
Parents are their children’s first teachers, so it's important to model being thankful as little learners consistently model behaviours that are shown to them. Things like seeing the positive in a challenging experience, being kind to others and being thankful for the things we have all show children how to practice this skill.
Teaching our children this concept is not always easy and can be challenging for little ones to understand, so we’ve put together five simple ways to practice gratitude with your preschooler.
Practice what you preach. Modelling is a simple way to teach little learners to be thankful. Saying please and thank you and telling your little one when you appreciate something they do. Children always look to adults to model their own behaviour, so be mindful to practising gratitude in your day. Encourage your little legend to say please and thank you, as this shows them to appreciate what they receive rather than to expect things. Remember, children want our approval, so acknowledging their positive behaviour can also help them remember to be grateful.
It's essential to practice positivity to show that even during a negative situation, there are things to be grateful for. Make this part of your daily routine; you may choose to discuss what you are thankful for around the dinner table. You may be grateful for the beautiful sunny day, for having wonderful friends and family or for the delicious meal you are about to have. Practising what we are thankful for helps little learners see that every cloud has a silver lining and always try to see the good things when times are tough. Another way to do this is to ask your children ‘what went well for you today?’ instead of simply asking ‘how was your day?’ By reframing this daily question, you’re teaching your children to immediately seek the positives in a situation, even if they previously felt like they’d had a less than positive day.
Kindness is free and shows we are grateful for those around us. Being kind can be as simple as giving genuine compliments, sharing something with a friend, helping someone or giving a kind smile. Kindness can be taught to little learners and is a concept we value at Genius. We like to introduce our little learners to kindness by encouraging them to help each other, work together, share toys and acknowledge those they love with cards or drawings.
A Gratitude Tree
A beautiful activity to do with your little one is to create a family gratitude tree. Draw the trunk of a tree with lots of branches. Your family can draw pictures of what you are grateful for in your tree's leaves. You may draw a sun for a stunningly sunny day; you could draw a picture of your pet or attach a photo of a friend or family member you are grateful for. You can display your tree on the fridge and make an effort to add to your tree when you find those things that make you feel happy.
Another way to do this is create a gratitude jar, and write down things that you’ve been grateful for throughout the year. At the end of the year you can open each note as a family and reflect on what a fantastic 12 months it has been!
Turn a Negative into a positive
Play a game with your child where you turn a negative into a positive. 'I hate Brussel sprouts' into 'even though I don't love Brussel sprouts, they are helping me be healthy and strong.' Or 'I hate brushing my teeth to 'although I don't care to brush my teeth, caring for my teeth helps me eat yummy food.' Teaching children a positive mindset train their brains to always think like that. It doesn't happen overnight, but with practice and modelling this behaviour, your child will begin to see the positives in every challenging situation and find the resilience to cope with adversity.
Practising gratitude with your little one is beneficial and teaching them one of life's essential concepts is also great for parents. Being mindful is great for everyone's well-being, regardless of age. We hope these practices will put a smile on everyone's face today!