Cultivating Gratitude and Thankfulness in Our Children

Gratitude and Thankfulness

As many families gather this season to celebrate the holidays, many of our students and their families may also have time away from work and school.  For some, this is a much needed respite from daily obligations and hopefully a chance to reconnect with each other.  In my own home, my husband will be working many days while I am home with our 2 children.  He works non-traditional hours, and many holidays, so it is something we are accustomed to.  We have learned to be flexible with celebrating events on dates and times that coincide with his schedule and not necessarily on the exact date of the holiday.  I’m always humbled and thankful for those who work these essential jobs that must be open at all times and all days of the year.  

I’ll admit, when my children were younger I found the idea of celebrating holidays and birthdays on “the wrong days” a bit of a struggle.  As our children have grown older, I have begun to become wiser to the fact that it really doesn’t matter what day we celebrate as long as we are together.  I will always be grateful for that time, wherever on the schedule it may land.  It is with that sentiment that this week’s blog came to mind…how to ensure our children are expressing gratitude and thankfulness.  

According to a recent article by Harvard Health Publishing, “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” ( One of the best things about cultivating gratitude in our children is that it literally costs nothing!  Another fantastic benefit is that we can support our children in their academics by naturally incorporating gratitude into their daily routine. And we can even continue to support them during their breaks from schooling by the simple addition of a gratitude activity! 

One of the easiest ways for our children to show gratitude is to write a note to someone expressing their thankfulness.  This note could be for a teacher, a parent, a grandparent, or friends.  It can even extend beyond the small, familial circle to include notes of gratitude for first responders, local nurses, or veterans.  My own children like to add their own flare to their notes and letters by drawing something on the note as well. 

A gratitude note and drawing from my son to his dad 

Another easy way to encourage expressing gratitude is to set aside a time each day for the family to be together. Each person can share something they are grateful for or someone that they are grateful for and why.  This can be done in the car on the way to the store or an appointment, around the dinner table, or before tucking into bed for example. 

Starting with small gestures and expressions of gratitude with our children can lead to bigger thoughts and ideas that will grow and flourish. Before you know it, they will be surprising you with the things they say they are grateful for and ideas on how to express it as well.  

We hope that you are able to take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for and we also hope you know that here at Dailies we are so very grateful for our students, their families and all of our teachers! 

(Cover Image from Hamilton East Public Library)

By: Angela Sterk

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