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Thanks Giving and Gratitude

Well, this year is officially flying by faster than I can process and with ThanksGiving last week, we are now officially on the fast track to Christmas or end of year holidays and celebrations!

Before I jump into all things children and Christmassy, I wanted to talk a bit about the meaning of thanksgiving. I know not everyone celebrates thanksgiving, and while there was no turkey on our table, the topic of thanks giving was definitely on my mind, in the context of how it fits into daily life and what the benefits are for living a life focused on gratitude.

While gratitude and happiness are closely linked for everyone, it's interesting to see there is a strong connection between the two even by age 5. As children grow we see how gratitude leads to happier, more optimistic children with better social support. In adults, gratitude is associated with more satisfying relationships, decreased distress and mental health concerns, better health outcomes and life satisfaction.

So how can we foster gratitude in our families? When parenting we often seem to focus on the manners side of things. We are quick to say things like, ‘what’s the magic word, ‘remember your manners’, ‘what do you say?’, ‘say thank you’ … But hang on, there’s so much more to being grateful. We can create richness and depth to gratitude when we learn to notice it, think about it, take time to feel it, and act upon it. This is where the real value in gratitude lies.

Even very young children acknowledge that sometimes "thank you" are just words, and that gratitude is the feeling. To get the maximum benefit, support your child to work through all 3 phases of gratitude.

I am going to make a more concerted effort to make conversations about gratitude a more regular feature in our household. If you are too, remember that it is equally as important to discuss moments when you notice your child expressing gratitude as it is to discuss those missed opportunities!

Let me know if you are interested in learning more about how to have these conversations with your child and embed gratitude into daily life – the long term benefits are certainly worth it!

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