Training For Gratitude.

This week has been full of enlightenments in so many forms that I sat down this morning to write and thought, “I CAN’T EVEN DECIDE WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT.”

The cool thing is a lot of my revelations came from friends, AND I DON’T HAVE TO PAY THEM! Woo Hoo!

I had a meeting at my house last night and one of the points of discussion was, “How do we make sure our kids don’t grow up spoiled or entitled?” I think we all agreed that some entitlement is inevitable, but what can we do to minimize that and to make sure they have a realistic view of their own privilege? It’s so easy to think the greater world is just a BIGGER version of our small sphere of experience, but it’s so VERY NOT true. Relative to the world, hell – even just to the rest of our country, my family is wealthy in many different ways. How do I make sure my kids realize how rich we are, even if half of their friends have iPads when they don’t?

It turns out a lot of my friends institute gratitude rituals in their families. In some, it’s part of prayers, in others its just part of recaps of days. In my house? It’s part of nothing. We do “Highs and Lows” some days, but we don’t specifically talk about gratitude. One friend referenced that gratitude is like a muscle you need to work out regularly so that it’s always in shape and comes easy and almost instinctively. One friend does this with constant questioning of her kids, “What are you thankful for?”

So, obviously, I’m stealing that idea.

I’m going to try to start making that part of meal time. We don’t do prayers, except at big family functions. But I like the idea that before meals we could take a moment to share something we’re thankful for. I already forgot to do it once this morning at breakfast, so obviously my gratitude muscle is just as in need of working out.

Do you have any gratitude rituals in your family? Do you have any ways to kinda “force” your kids to recognize things in their life they should or could be thankful for?

4 thoughts on “Training For Gratitude.”

  1. When my son was having a tough time in school (emotionally) last year we instituted the 5 questions at dinner (which we all answered). It some ways it isn’t directly about gratitude but we really needed to normalize that we all have good/bad moments and give/receive help because he was locked in the idea that he was the only one with bad moments who only received help.

    1. What went well today
    2. What didn’t go the way I expected
    3. Who did I help today
    4. Who helped me today
    5. What made me laugh

    I remember most clearly when he told us (in response to #4) that a kid he didn’t know got hurt on the playground and he was so proud that he comforted the girl and then got an adult to help.

  2. SUCH a good idea! I made a page in my bullet journal to create some mealtime questions for us too!

  3. Ours is usually part of a bedtime routine as the girls are snuggling in but I admit we have let it slide lately–this is a good reminder. We just basically each say something we are grateful for and you’re not allowed to “pass”. If you can’t think of anything I encourage them to express gratitude for the fact that they are alive and breathing 🙂 It’s also fun to sometimes do a family project about gratitude, my daughter’s like the creative part of that. For example since I didn’t pull anything together for Thanksgiving I did it for December instead. I grabbed some poster paint, stirred in some soap hoping it would help later with clean up and sketched out a not very artistic evergreen on our sliding glass door. I had the girls cut out circle ornaments from scrap paper and threw them in a bowl with some markers. I encouraged (and modeled for them) how to write down things or events that they were grateful for and we taped them up all month. When people came to visit we invited them to add some too. Gratitude for kids often starts out as “things” but the more you do it the better they get at other “things” –like my 11 year old writing that she was grateful she got to spend extra time a friends house when she asked 🙂

  4. In addition to talking about gratitude, let your kids help with service projects. Having them help you at races is a great start.They could also help you pick up a public area. Let them sort through clothing and toys and go with you to donate them to an organization. Volunteer at a shelter or Manna house or House of the Harvest to hand out foods. Some do have age limits on helpers. Having your kids see what others have and don’t have teaches them about the world.

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