We all hope that we can install an attitude of gratitude in our children. But how do we teach our kids gratitude? You can start by creating a habit of expressing thankfulness and gratitude as a family every day. Today’s post will give you ideas on how to start a gratitude journal with your kids!
This year, I have become more intentional in my practice of gratitude. I try to make it habit to start my day with thinking about everything I am thankful for. Recently, I wanted to be more focused on my gratitude practice, so I decided to get a journal to write down my thoughts each day. When I was buying my journal, I made a quick decision to get journals for everyone in the family. I actually found our cute journals at the Dollar Store!
I gave each of the kids a journal and explained what I hoped for them to do. They all took to their journals right away and we started a new daily habit!
Why gratitude matters
So first, why did I decide to start these gratitude journals. We all know it is good to give thanks and express gratitude. But it turns out there are so many benefits of expressing gratitude beyond just doing something we think is important.
By teaching our kids the daily practice of gratitude, we can help them:
Be Happier and More Optimistic (from Positive Psychology) Kids focus on what they have in their lives now instead of what they want.
Be Healthier Studies have found that those who keep a gratitude journal, report better sleep, less physical and mental ailments.(from Happier Human)
Have More Empathy and Positive Feelings Towards Others We recognize what we have and we feel more sensitive to others who might not have what we have.
Improve Self-Esteem We focus on our strengths and are less likely to compare ourselves to others. (Forbes.com)
Be Less Materialistic A recent study found that adolescents who kept a gratitude journal were less materialistic and exhibited more generosity towards others. (NPR)
Gratitude Journals for Kids and Families
Some people have an easier time expressing gratitude than others. By installing a daily practice of gratitude, you can help those family members who might struggle with expressing thankfulness.
Gratitude journals do not have to be anything fancy. As I mentioned, I found our journals at the dollar store! We added a label to each of our journals to remind us what the intention of the journal.
I have found that it is best to let the kids take the lead on their own journals. Also, I let them know that I wouldn’t read their journals, so they could feel more open and free to write down their thoughts.
Three Thoughts Per Day
Ideally, I suggested that they write down 3 things they are thankful for each day. I do the same with my own journal. For kids who can not write or spell yet, you could encourage them to draw pictures or you could help them write down their thoughts.
Sometimes it takes a little more prompting for kids (and adults) to come up with things to be thankful. It can be hard to find positive things in life when we are going through a challenging time. Also, some kids might be more reluctant than others to start a gratitude practice.
Here are some gratitude journal writing prompts to get you and your kids started:
Write down a happy memory.
What is one of your favorite gifts that somebody recently gave you.
Tell about a time that someone was nice to you.
What is one of your favorite things that happened this week.
Tell about your favorite stuffed animal or toy.
What is your favorite thing about living in your town, your neighborhood or house?
Write about one of your best friends and why they are special to you.
What is your favorite thing about school.
What is an event or occasion you are looking forward to?
Printable Journal Prompts Handout
Download this printable Journal Prompts for Kids handout HERE! Once your print the handout, you can cut it down to 5 X 7, which is perfect if you are using composition notebooks! Just glue or tape this sheet to the inside cover of your journal!
These journals can be a beautiful keepsake for your kids in years to come! You never know how these journals might help your kids through challenging times later in life! Whether, it helps them to realize how fortunate they are or even perhaps during challenging times, they still find comfort in finding things to be thankful for.