When we feel appreciation for what someone else has done for us we are experiencing a unique gift, gratitude. Expressing thankfulness lets us feel close to others, allows us to let our guard down and is quite pleasurable. Numerous studies have concluded that practicing gratitude can enhance one’s mood. Robert A. Emmons, Ph. D is a professor at The University of California and avid researcher in the study of gratitude and well-being. In his research, Emmons has uncovered that gratitude decreases negative moods and depression, reduces social comparisons and is linked to positive emotions and better sleep. Being thankful lets us move the focus from self to others, allowing us be more receptive to new possibilities.
Gratitude creates a sense of community and shows children that the world is so much lager than it appears to be. There is more out there than the house that they live in, the family they know, the friends that they have chosen and the neighborhood they are growing up in. An additional perk to engaging in kind acts with your children is that you and your child will be spending quality time together. It may deepen your relationship and help them see how relationships with others are so very important.
- Keep a jar in your kitchen and have the entire family put some loose change in it, then donate what you have collected to a non-profit organization of your choice
- Tell your children and spouse why you are grateful to have them in your life and this behavior will become a wonderful model for self-expression in relationships
- Have your child pick out a toy that they would like to donate to a less fortunate child around the holidays or whenever
- At bedtime go down a list with your child of all the people who love them
- If you know a craft of some sort, have you and your child help make them around the holidays or help pack them up and donate them to a non-profit organization of your choice
- Have your child help you sort through clothes they have outgrown to donate to less fortunate families
- Make cookies with your child and deliver them to elderly neighbors
- Help volunteer at a food bank or a homeless shelter with your child
- At the end of each school year have your child make a piece of artwork or write a thank you note to a teacher who has touched their life
Gratitude can open the door to so many wonderful feelings and experiences. Talk to your kids about how giving their toy to another child made them feel and express to them how giving made you feel as well.