When I was a first grade teacher, I read an interesting article about gratitude and the importance of teaching children how to be thankful. What struck me about this article was how gratitude isn't something that humans are born with- it is something that has to be explicitly taught.
I wasn't able to dig up the exact article, but doing a quick google search led me to one with similar ideas on the parents.com website. Here is an excerpt from that site:
"Gratitude is one of the trickiest concepts to teach... but one of the most important. Sure, thankful children are more polite and pleasant to be around, but there's more to it than that. By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way, says Barbara Lewis, author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005). Grateful kids look outside their one-person universe and understand that their parents and other people do things for them -- prepare dinner, dole out hugs, buy toys. 'On the flip side, kids who aren't taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed,' says Lewis.
Indeed, instilling grateful feelings now will benefit your child later in life. A 2003 study at the University of California at Davis showed that grateful people report higher levels of happiness and optimism -- along with lower levels of depression and stress. The catch? 'No one is born grateful,' says life coach Mary Jane Ryan, author of Attitudes of Gratitude (Conari, 1999). "Recognizing that someone has gone out of the way for you is not a natural behavior for children -- it's learned.'"
(You can check out the full article on Parents.com here. They have some great ideas for how to practice gratitude daily as a family!)
Since November is a popular time of the year to reflect on the things we are most grateful for, we have created a few free printables for you to help you and your child(ren) practice gratitude together.
The first one is a card titled "Who Am I Grateful For?" Your child can draw a picture of someone who is special to them and send it to the intended recipient in order to express their appreciation. You might consider having them write reasons why they are thankful for that person on the inside of the card. You can download and print a black and white "coloring" version of the card here, and an already colored version of the card here.
We also have a full-page version of the card front to be used as a coloring sheet here.
Finally, we have a collection of gratitude cards available to download here. You can cut these out and use them however it works for your family- by filling one out each day to display at home, to complete and sneak into a lunchbox or give to a friend, etc. The possibilities are endless!
Sending lots of love and gratitude to you all- we could all use a little extra right now! We hope you enjoy!!