Yesterday morning my son’s kindergarten class celebrated Thanksgiving a week early, by reenacting the ceremonial feast between the Pilgrims and the Indians.
I, was fortunate enough to bear witness to this adorable little event where by which, the kids sat down for a historically accurate feast of goldfish and mini muffins followed by songs of turkey worship and thanks.
The kid’s electrifying performance of that old classic; I’m Thankful For My Friends At School most certainly warmed my heart, but it also got me thinking about gratitude and wondering just how thankful my 5 year old really is.
Like most parents, I have taught my children to say thank you and despite the fact that I have to remind them every so often, they have basically mastered that skill. But saying thank you is certainly not the same as being thankful and I am reminded of that reality every time my son thanks me for his iPad then immediately throws a temper tantrum because the WiFi is slow.
The dictionary defines the word gratitude as the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. In terms of qualities that I wish for my children to possess, gratitude is definitely up there on my list. But the more I think about it, the more I wonder is it something that can be taught?
If gratitude is in fact a feeling, one would argue that it’s impossible to teach and perhaps true gratitude only comes with advanced age and experience.
So the question for today is: Can you really teach young children to be thankful and if so, how?
Jo Ann says
That’s a tough one, not sure you can teach that, but let me know when you figure out how to even explain it!
Ha! Will do Jo Ann
Hey Erin, gratitude is something that I have always taught in my classroom. With my grade 5s, first thing in the morning they would have to write 3 things they are grateful for. At the beginning in was a bit ridiculous (I’m thankful for this pencil) but with time they started to convey that they actually understood what it really meant to be grateful. With my grade 1s and 2s this year, I’m starting out by teaching them kindness and to pay it forward, then we’ll get into gratefulness as well. It sounds awful, but a great way to teach these concepts is by reminding them just how fortunate they really are and exposing them to others in the world who aren’t so fortunate and who are happy with much less. I know that Nate and Olivia will grow up to be grateful because they have amazing parents! xx
I think that’s great Sarah! It’s never too young to start a gratitude journal! Thank you for the advice and the super sweet compliment…you’re are good teacher lady! xoxo
i think that more than a feeling or a quality, you can cultivate a practice of gratitude. About 2 years ago I started following an intuitive healer named Robin Lee on facebook. Robin has gratitude parties everyday. She asks people to list three things they are grateful for at that very moment in the comments section of the post. I’ve been doing it almost every day now for about the past two years and it really has affected the way I view the world. I also love to read other people’s posts. Robin encourages people to throw their own gratitude parties for friends on Fridays (Gratitude Friday) and I have started to do that. It’s amazing how many people tell me that they like the reminder and even if they don’t post they think about it. I think you could do the same thing with your kids. Have them list three things they are grateful for everyday at the end of the day. It really changed things for me.
Thank you so much for the comment Michael and I think this is such a great idea! I think that even as adults we lose sight of what we have and need to be reminded all of the time. Thanks again!