The approach of the end of the year and the holiday season provides a time to reflect on growth, achievement and success. At BWB we strive to assist students and families during this season, through connecting families with services and supports from Community Agencies such as Toys for Tots, Katelyn’s Closet, the Family Resource Center and our school based Giving Tree.
This time of year also provides opportunities to express gratitude. Promoting positive attitudes, such as gratitude, helps students become more aware of the strengths in themselves and others. Research has revealed that children who feel and express gratitude express more positive views of both home and school, and improve their academic performance. Gratitude is an emotional state that involves a connection between both the giver and receiver. Research suggests that gratitude likely emerges in children between the ages of 7 and 10 (Emmons & Shelton, 2002). There is no current research indicating that efforts to make children below age 7 more grateful will be successful. However, young children do learn from modeling and practicing behaviors, so activities encouraging gratitude can contribute to a foundation for the later development of gratitude.
There are numerous things that you can do with your child at home to help foster gratitude:
In addition to teaching your child to say “thank you” when they receive a gift, explain to them why they should say “thank you.” Virtues like gratitude are acquired behaviors that will develop with consistent support and encouragement from adults.
Encourage your child to be mindful of people, events, activities, and things for which they can and should be grateful. Gently remind them, without nagging, about the many positive aspects of their lives, particularly in comparison to other children who may not be as fortunate.
Encourage your child to write thank you notes when they receive gifts from relatives and friends, and to write in their notes why they are thankful for the gift. Also, encourage your child to write thank you notes to teachers and other school staff members who made a particular impression on your child or who helped him/her in some way. Have your child reflect on why he/she is grateful for this person, and have your child communicate this in the note.
Refer to additional resources linked below for further ways to foster gratitude.
(National Association of School Psychologists, 2018)