Pathways to Wellness

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Giving thanks

Many people have memories of having to sit down as a child and write thank you notes, usually after receiving a present.  Heartfelt thank you notes are great but giving thanks, or being grateful, is so much more and can be a part of everyday life, present or no present.  Being grateful is about noticing the good in life, and being grateful for it.

Helping kids notice the big and little things they are grateful for is the first step.  The best way to teach gratitude is to express gratitude yourself.  Let your children know that you appreciate them.  Be specific.  "I really like it when you play with your baby brother while I am making dinner."

Another way is to make gratitude a regular part of your family's day.  You can begin each meal by asking everyone to share something that they are grateful about.   Or once teeth are brushed and bedtime stories read, you can ask your child to name 3 good things that happened today – it's a great way to end the day on a positive note. Click here to watch a short video and learn more about the 3 Good Things exercise.  

At first it may seem awkward or artificial to express gratitude every day.  But the magic is that once it becomes routine, children will go through the day noticing what they have to be grateful for.  This doubles their happiness!  They can experience happiness in the moment, and again when they tell you about it later in the day.

People of all ages who practice gratitude are more enthusiastic, interested, and energetic; feel happier; are kinder and more helpful to others; and sleep better.    Expressing gratitude makes us feel good about who we are, the people in our lives, and the lives we lead.

Oh, and instead of sitting your child down to write a thank you note to Uncle Charlie, why not ask, "how would you like to thank Uncle Charlie for the gift he gave you?"  You might be surprised at the great ideas your kid comes up with!


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