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Teaching Children Gratitude and Contentment: Lockdown Lessons


Estimated read time : 6 minutes

So it’s taken the lockdown for a lot of us to realise how grateful and blessed we are to have what we have. We have paused and learned to appreciate the little things in our lives that make us truly happy. We’ve now truly learnt to count our blessings.

Some of us have started appreciating the people we have around us – friends and family for the emotional support they extend and domestic staff that make our day easier to handle. Having a roof over our head and clean food to eat has dawned on us as a great privilege in the wake of so many families who have been left without an income/home during the pandemic. There a number of reasons why every parent should teach their kids about gratitude as well and appreciating what we have.

The Gratitude Jar

grattitude jar

Something that started as a school activity for my daughter has become an important part of the day for me and my 8-year-old. The gratitude jar – though it sounds a little simple, it’s helped us appreciate and give thanks for our day and lives in a profound manner.

We first took a transparent jar with a lid on it and decorated it. Using the coloured paper and ribbons at home, we made it pretty and quite funky. The task then was that every day we would take a piece of paper, write the date and something we were grateful for – one slip of paper for me and one for her.

We would not show it to each other while writing and open them only at the end of the week to discuss them on Sunday.

Of course, sometimes I would feel like peeking and checking her slip when she looked very happy or pensive but curbed my urge to do so. The surprise of understanding how and what your child is thinking and why has helped us communicate more and understand each other better too.

It has so far played an immense role in making us better individuals.

Also Read: How Gratitude Fosters Health and Happiness in Kids

Teaching your child to be grateful

We often wonder how to encourage our children to be grateful for what we have and struggle to make them appreciate the resources that they have access to.

teach child gratitude

I know we tell them stories about how little was available when we were children or about the underprivileged around us. However, these are sometimes very difficult for the children to understand as they are not able to relate considering what they have been given today.

The gratitude jar gives them an opportunity to introspect and is an easy way to help bond, connect and inculcate in them the art of appreciating what they have.

Some of her gratitude slips

So initially it started with the common things like “loving parents” (this was her first Gratitude slip) and “friends like XYZ”. Slowly, as we went forward with this ritual, my daughter went deeper into herself to come up with unique aspects to be grateful for. Some were sensitive and some were fun, I am listing them down here to share my joy –

  • When we took the time to take pictures from the window
  • Maggi and cheese ate one evening as a snack
  • Wifi so we can connect with family and friends with video
  • The Climb – a song by Miley Cyrus – that makes her feel very happy
  • Tintin and Harry Potter books that she is reading for the 3rd time (!)
  • Safety of everyone around her
  • The fact that she didn’t make any silly mistakes in Math that day
  • Our home didi who cooks yummy food

One of the days when she was feeling irritated and annoyed with everything at home (and not wanting to heed to anything I would tell her), I asked her to open her Gratitude Jar and read all her slips. Though hesitant at first, when she started reading them, she started smiling and soon was singing again.

Also Read: All About the Joy of Giving

Gratitude starts at home

teaching gratitude to kids

Besides the Gratitude Jar, here are a few other things you can do at home to ingrain the value of contentment in your child –

  • Talk about the haves and have-nots – Stories from your childhood or a family member’s story who your child knows. It helps them relate and it stays with them.
  • Talk positively about gratitude – When talking about you and family, focus on what we have rather than what we don’t have
  • The conversation at the dinner table – It’s better to do it casually as a conversation rather than making it formal teaching which may put off the child. Make it a ritual to ask what your children are grateful for at the dinner table
  • Hear their point of view – Let them talk. Let them express. And don’t push it if they don’t speak up on a particular day. They are listening to all you are saying and absorbing everything like sponges.
  • Read books about those who fight against all odds – Books like ‘Rebel Girls’ or ‘Stories of Boys Who Dare To Be Different’ or ‘The Boy with a Backpack’ make for such interesting reading and it’s wonderful how the themes of kindness, gratitude and love are there in so many of these stories. Make up your own stories too. They could feature rabbits or fairies.

Do it in your own way and figure what works best for you and your child. Pause, take a step back, appreciate. And do it with your child/ren. It makes the world a better place.