By: Jerry Thomas (Basketball coach, mindset coach, and owner of Athlete's Gift Shop)
You’ve probably heard by now about the powerful benefits of gratitude.
But how do you instill it as a VALUE in your children and not just a once-in-a-while Thanksgiving dinner type of thing? As a basketball coach and mindset coach, I’ve helped children along with their parents develop gratitude practices with remarkable results.
Parents who’ve implemented our strategies reported their kids were less prone to anger, complained less, showed more appreciation for their work as a parent, and overall were more joyful.
Here are some proven ways you can make gratitude a value in their life.
1. Daily gratitude reflection
Find a time during the day where they can share one thing they are grateful for. This might be right before dinner time, where then everyone at the dinner table can say one thing they’re grateful for.
Or it can be right before they go off to school, where each child can say one thing they are grateful for. Whichever time you pick, it’s important you stick with that time to make it a habit. It’s up to you as the parent to reinforce this, at least in the beginning, until they get used to it and then do it automatically.
2. Family gratitude jar — "a game-changer for our family"
One great way I’ve seen families implement this is with a family gratitude jar.
Whenever someone in your family feels grateful for something or someone, write it down and pop it into the jar. You can make it a weekly ritual to sit down as a family and read all the notes.
Martha S., one of the parents we’ve helped implement this for said: “This has been a game-changer for our family! Now I always look forward to our Sunday night family gratitude ritual, because I know afterward we’re all going to be so uplifted and joyful. It’s such a great way for us to connect as a family and it's made all the difference in our family life!”
3. Use a gratitude journal
Create a dedicated daily gratitude journal and have them write 2-3 things they are grateful for. It can be big things like I’m so grateful for making the basketball team, but it’s also important to include smaller everyday things like I’m grateful that we have food to eat today.
Ideally, they do this in the morning. If they start their day off with gratitude, it will prime their mind to naturally start looking for more things they are grateful for throughout the day and to look at the bright side of life.
4. Gratitude walk
Get out together into nature for a mindful walk. While you walk, pay attention to the things you can see, feel, hear, and smell. Notice the small details and express your gratitude for them. Things like the sound of birds singing, the warm sun on your face, and the smell of the beautiful flowers as you walk past. Use this time to ask your children what they are grateful for also. By the time you return home, you will be absolutely full to the brim with an appreciation for the world around you!
5. Be a model
One of the best ways to teach gratitude is to be grateful! They will naturally model off of you. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Tell your spouse or your parent or your friend how much you appreciate them in front of your kids. Tell them how grateful you are when it’s a sunny day. Make gratitude a practice for yourself and your children will follow.
Gifts can be a great way to show appreciation. Of course, we'd love for you to buy one of our gift products, like a Personalized Medal Display or a Personalized Sports Portrait; these are unique gifts to appreciate your child's unique passions. But whether or not you decide to shop with us, get them a gift that is in line with what they're passionate about.
When your child learns to practice gratitude, they will be a better athlete, teammate, student, child, and overall human being.
Email us to let us know if you implement any of these strategies or if there's anything else you'd like help with! We love hearing from our readers 🙂.