The benefits of having a grateful attitude are immeasurable. To be grateful teaches us to see life as a gift and allows us to appreciate it much more. By focusing more on the positive and leaving aside the negative will help us get closer and closer to happiness.
Unfortunately I discovered the power of gratitude already in my adulthood, before that, nobody ever told me about it. Yes, they taught me to give thanks whenever I receive a present, or a favor; I was also taught to thank God, but I never heard that gratitude is so great, that even if I thanks for something negative, can turn it into a positive one. It was only a few months ago, through a book, that I knew the joys that being a truly grateful person can bring to my life. And it´s not about being a super, mega, hyper positive person all the time, because negative situations will always happen to us, that is inevitable; Being grateful and giving thanks even for those sad and despairing moments in our lives will help us finding the positive of that situation, because there is always something positive in everything and perhaps, something that for us is negative, in the long run we can realize that it was the best thing that could have happened. Being grateful even when things are not going well and when conflicts or problems arise, helps us to train our minds towards the positive.
Now imagine that they had taught us to be grateful and to value everything we have since childhood. We would be more positive adults, happier, able to mold our thoughts, be more optimistic and always willing to see the good side of things. And therefore, we would be healthier adults, with a better relationship with ourselves and with those around us.
As parents, we always want our children to live better lives than us, not to go through the same problems we did and not suffer the things we have suffered. The best way to prevent this from happening, is not giving material things to compensate, as we sometimes think and do, rather the trick is to provide a healthy emotional education that allows them to discover tools that help them to be happy human beings and to live fully. That is why I began to teach my children to practice gratitude. With very simple things like to thank each day when waking up, giving thanks for the food before eating, giving thanks for the stars, for the moon, for the sun, for dad, for mom, for our brothers, for our pets, for our friends, etc. It is the best we can do to introduce our children to the world of gratitude.
It is important to teach them to be grateful in a simple and natural way, that is why giving thanks for the simplest things that happen to us every day, will help them to make it an habit and get used to it much more quickly.
Teaching my children to give thanks step by step:
1. Every morning wake them up with music: This will help them to wake up in a happy way and will help them to have their first positive thought. This is very important, since from this first thought will depend all the other thoughts that will come to their mind during the day. It is important that the songs are for children and give a happy and positive message.
2. Before going to school, we recited a prayer that we elaborate together for every day. If it is not school day, we pray before leaving home or before breakfast.
“Thank you God for allow me to see a new day; Thanks for my siblings, for mom and dad, thanks for the love we give and receive and especially for the great love that we give to ourself. Thank you because we are important beings in this world and an essential part of creation. Help me to find within me the purpose that you have reserved for me. Amen”
The prayer should be short, simple and easy to learn. Remember that they have to see this as something fun so they always want to do it.
3. When I give thanks I also try to get them to see me and listen to me. If my children see me practicing gratitude and I tell them the things for which I am grateful, they will also want to do the same. Most of the time I talk to them about the things I am grateful for the day, it becomes a conversation where they also tell me the things for which they feel grateful. This, apart from practicing gratitude, also helps us to establish an even closer connection between mother and children.
4. Be an example: Children do what we do. That is why acting in a grateful way with everything that surrounds us, will teach them to do the same. This includes, thanking the cashier at the supermarket when paying for our food, thanking the mailman who brings our mail and even thanking them when they behave. “Thanks Alex for being such a good boy, mom feels happy and proud that today you have done your homework by yourself” “Thanks for helping me set the table for dinner” “Thank you María José for picking up your toys” “Thanks Sara for taking care of your little brothers “etc.
5. We enjoy together the simple and wonderful things that God gives us: Alejandro is a fan of the moon, which I am sure he got it from me. So every full moon we go out to see her. We thank God for having created such a beautiful moon. We also thank the moon for delighting us with its beauty, for its light and for making the nights so beautiful.
6. We thank nature and God for having created it: This teaches them to appreciate the things that really matter in life, appreciating and enjoying nature makes children more altruistic and teach them to care less about material things.
7. Teach them to be nice and to respect others: Of course! Respect for others is essential when we want to raise emotionally healthy and grateful children. This will help them to have an always positive attitude towards people. Always remind them that the treatment we have towards others is a reflection of how we feel ourselves inside. That’s why being kind (even when people do not deserve it) always reminds us of all the love that we carry within us.
Being grateful helps us to focus on the good, on what we DO have, on the wonderful little things that happen to us every day: waking up every morning, being healthy, having our family and being able to count on them, having our friends that make us laugh, the school where we learn, etc.
Teaching our children to be grateful, will allow them to live happier, appreciating the really important things in life, such as health, love and family; It will also teach them to appreciate people for their human value. Remember that as parents it is very important that we are grateful first so that they see us. In this way it will be much easier for our children to want and to be grateful and happy beings.
I love you all!