With Thanksgiving and the holiday season right around the corner, it’s a good time to begin instilling thoughts and feelings of gratitude in children.
Gratitude is showing thankfulness to the good things in your life and returning the kindness that’s shown to you.
Dr. Maria Montessori believed that encouraging gratitude in children would help with their overall development. In fact, she embodied that idea with her focus on making “grace and courtesy” a core part of the Montessori method. Being thankful, respectful and courteous is an important quality to instill in children of all ages, she believed, making gratitude a fundamental element of the Montessori classroom.
Why teaching gratitude is important
Teaching gratitude to children helps circumvent harmful emotions like resentment, regret and envy. Creating these feelings of love and compassion helps strengthen their self-worth and builds social ties. And to enforce these feelings in children, they need teachers and parents to serve as role models, and see their attitudes of gratitude demonstrated every day.
4 ways to practice gratitude every day
There are several ways to bring more gratitude in your life. Some people keep a journal of the good things and positive experiences they have. Others practice meditation to focus on these experiences. Here are some simple things you and your children can do every day to help create a mindset that prioritizes gratitude.
1) Take time to acknowledge the good things that happen every day. Try having a conversation every day about the positive things that happen and don’t forget to focus on the small things. If your child helps out by setting the table or sweeping the floor, make sure they know you appreciate it. And when bad things do happen, try to find ways to keep things in perspective.
2) Give back the kindness you receive. This goes beyond just being respectful and kind to everyone. It includes encouraging your child to help out in the community. Finding volunteer activities or donating used clothing and toys are ways to show kindness to others and foster feelings of gratitude.
3) Give compliments and gifts; avoid criticizing and complaining. As we approach the holiday season, give your child a role in selecting gifts for others, which will demonstrate the importance of expressing thanks and gratitude. And after receiving gifts, write “thank you” notes with your child, showing them proper ways to vocalize thanks.
4) Focus on what you appreciate about yourself and those around you. When giving thanks, don’t forget to thank yourself. Too often we spend too much time and energy criticizing ourselves or worrying about things we may have done wrong. In reality, you do a lot of right in the day, from working to taking care of your kids to instilling good values in them. And your kids are probably doing a lot of great things too. Help them see this.
At La Prima Casa Montessori, we make gratitude a daily part of our curriculum for your children. With our focus on “grace and courtesy,” we’ll instill the feelings of gratitude that Dr. Montessori wisely made a central part of her unique educational philosophy.
You may also like
7 Ways to Show Respect to Your Child