Attitude of Gratitude

Attitude of Gratitude

One of the best things we can teach our children is to be grateful and how to express their gratitude to others.  As the holiday season approaches, we begin to think about that for which we are thankful; however, having an ‘attitude of gratitude’ is timeless.

Having an attitude of gratitude is beneficial in a multitude of ways.  Gratitude can reverse negativity and lead to a more hopeful and positive mindset, which improves our sense of wellbeing.  Attitude is impacted by positive thinking and engaging our thoughts with things we are grateful for encourages positivity.  A positive attitude can have an influence on the way we feel and our awareness of our own good fortune.   It can also influence our behavior and the behaviors of those around us.  An attitude of gratitude also encourages us to express empathy and concern for others, thus improving relationships.

“It is largely agreed that gratitude is not inbuilt; instead it develops over time, as certain capacities become available and cognitive abilities mature,” write researchers Blaire Morgan and Liz Gulliford in the new book Developing Gratitude in Children and Adolescents. It “require[s] a great deal of practice.”

There are many ways you can help your child develop and express gratitude: 

1. Communicate the value of gratitude to your child by having regular conversations about the importance you

    place on gratitude. 

2. Encourage your child to participate in gratitude-rich activities.

3. Help children understand their feelings and those of others.

4. Develop your own attitude of gratitude to model for your child.

At Saint Mary’s Hall, we believe in being kinder than necessary.  We have been talking with Lower School students about being the ‘heart of Saint Mary’s Hall’ and how we would like to extend that idea a step further.  Recently, I brainstormed with students in Forms 1-5 about things they might be grateful for and ways for them to express their gratitude.  The students came up with a collective list of wonderful thoughts which they were eager to share with each other.  Some of their ideas included:

1.       Daily journaling

2.       Writing thank you letters

3.       Creating a gratitude jar

4.       Participating in community service

5.       Donating items and/or time to a local charity

6.       Helping friends with problems, homework, and small tasks

7.       Helping parents with household chores and other tasks

As Lewis Howes, New York Times best-selling author of The School of Greatness: A Real World Guide to Living Bigger, Loving Deeper, and Leaving a Legacy, writes, “Life is better if you develop an attitude of gratitude.”  Making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation for things in your and your child’s life on a regular basis can cultivate an attitude of gratitude and boost happiness far beyond the holiday season. 

About Khristi:  Khristi Bates is the Saint Mary’s Hall head of Lower School, and she has more than 20 years experience working in public and private schools.   She is the mother of two sons in college and a son and daughter at Saint Mary’s Hall.