05 Apr 4 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude at School and Home
Gratitude is a powerful character trait! Studies have shown that even small expressions of gratitude can increase optimism, positivity and connectedness. These are essential in developing strong character and healthy well being in young people. Learning how to see beyond challenges and to focus on what we are grateful for improves mental health.
One of the most important skills I share with youth is that they have a choice to react from their emotions or to act from their character. Character based choices go beyond emotions, based on character traits that are important to them. Making choices from character traits they value helps them develop confidence and become more resilient in their lives.
Gratitude is an important character trait to develop in order to become more confident and resilient. Below are 4 simple, fun and effective activities that can be used at school or at home to help develop the character trait of GRATITUDE.
1. Visual Display of Gratitude That Grows Each Day
Creating a visual gratitude display is a great way to not only develop gratitude but also a feeling of connectedness. Everyday have each person write one thing they are grateful for on a piece of paper. By adding their paper to the display they can physically see their gratitude and those of their classmates or family members grow.
Ideas for displays include:
- brick walls
This helps teach young people to focus on something great in their day. By having this visual reminder, it helps to keep gratitude fresh in their minds.
2. Thank You Notes
Thank you notes are a beneficial exercise that gets young people expressing their gratitude towards others. Each day have them express gratitude towards their classmates or family members by writing thank you notes to those that have made a difference in their day or life. This creates a positive classroom or home environment and builds a more connected school or home by developing feelings of thoughtfulness and compassion.
Journaling daily about what you are grateful for creates a practice of connecting to gratitude. Having young people write 3 things they are grateful for in their own private journal each day keeps them connected to an ‘attitude of gratitude’. It has them see that even on a bad day there is something to be grateful for, something as simple as eyes to see with, legs for walking, air to breathe etc.
Recent research by two leaders in the field of gratitude and education, Dr. Robert Emmons and Dr. Jeffrey Froh, supports the idea that gratitude improves the lives of young people.
It illustrates how keeping a gratitude journal on a daily basis helps young people achieve the following:
- higher grades
- higher goals
- more satisfaction with relationships, life, and school
- less materialism
- more willingness to give back
An easy way to get your young person journaling is by downloading my FREE 7 day UPower Journal from the homepage of my website.
4. Create A Jar Of Joy
A Jar of Joy helps young people refocus their thoughts to gratefulness which reminds them that it is possible to move through challenging circumstances and challenging emotions.
Provide each person with their own jar. They can write down things or people they are grateful for. They can also use photos or cut out images from magazines to place in their jar. Whenever a young person has a moment where they need a joyful lift – remind them to look through their jar of joy.
Being reminded to focus on what we enjoy and are grateful for about life shifts our mood and mind to a happier state.
Gratitude is transformational! When you are choosing to focus on what you are grateful for it transforms how you see yourself and your life!
I hope these activities will help you teach your students or children the character trait of gratitude. I’m certain that it won’t take long before you start to see the benefits of gratitude in the classroom and at home.
I’d love to hear what you are grateful for, tweet me @sarawestbrook.