By Jessica Perkins
Gratitude is the ability to be thankful and appreciative.
Gratitude is important because it brings us back to center – it brings us back to kindness. It allows us to BE in the presence of our life’s many blessings: however simple or profound. It helps us connect to Joy and Appreciation and Presence.
Why do we need to PRACTICE Gratitude?
Have you ever had a bad day that seems to spiral worse and worse? The kind where you want to curl back into bed and hide? Sometimes it’s not easy to see the positives around us. And negative energy from others (or ourselves) has a way of trickling into our thoughts and affecting how we interact with the world (which can, in turn, attract more of that same negative energy). By taking a moment to pause, center into kindness, and shift our mindset to that of thankfulness we our training our brains to slow down and notice. We are becoming aware of our state of mind, our thoughts, and momentum in the world. It is that pause and reflection that is so important.
By practicing Gratitude we are setting an intention of thankfulness. I believe thankful hearts are happy, smiley hearts. It’s much easier to breathe when we are filling ourselves with that which we are grateful.
Why TEACH our children Gratitude?
I teach my children Gratitude because I think it is important to their self-care. Just as brushing teeth is important to your oral hygiene; Just as eating a healthy, balanced meal is important to your physical body’s growth and health; Just as exercise builds muscles and strengthens your physical body; Tuning into the joys and kindness in our world is essential to nurturing your Mind and Spirit – your emotional hygiene. I believe the practice of Gratitude has a huge impact on how we all interact with each other and engage in our worlds. Though embracing gratitude comes more easily to some, it is a practice that becomes more easily accessible over time – with practice – acknowledgment – and pause. At first, the practice might seem daunting or over-thought, but eventually it will be second nature – a subconscious script or internal attitude that shines out towards loved ones, friends, nature, the things around us, and our world.
HOW do you practice Gratitude with kids?
Practicing Gratitude with your kids and family can be a really connecting time. I love to hear how my own young people find Gratitude in their own lives.
Here are some ways to practice Gratitude with your little ones.
- In the morning, pause to breathe deeply together and give thanks for a new day.
- On a walk (even a routine walk to school or the grocery store) can turn into Gratitude practice by NOTICING the simple, natural treasures and beauty around you. Pause for a moment to store those mindful photos in your memory bank.
- Write a note to your little one and tuck it in his or her lunch box or under his or her pillow. Write how grateful you are that they are part of your life; how much your happier and fuller your family is for having his or her presence in it; reminding them of a special time you shared together.
- At dinner, pause and give thanks for the food you are sending into your body to nurture its cells and fuel your body and mind.
- Take turns sharing one or two things you are thankful for each day during dinner, bathtime, or right before bed.
- Create a Gratitude Journal where you store drawings, words, magazine cutouts, or pictures of the things you are grateful for. Make it a nightly or weekly ritual to pause and reflect in your journal together. Slowing down to find thankfulness is a practice that really helps build connection.
- Send a Thank You note to someone every week. Pausing to remind yourself is a wonderful practice in gratitude and a positive way to spread that LovingKindness into the world.
- Fill out a Gratitude Blurb Journal sheet (#MamaMayIMindfulKids Printable). Fill out one blurb, a whole sheet, or a few, whatever moves you. These are Seasonal journal pages so you can collect them in a binder and reflect on your gratitude throughout the year.
- Slow down for some pillow talk before bed and incorporate a thankfulness poem or gratitude-share right before sleep. I love to end our night reminding each other of all the things we are most grateful for in our lives. It makes me feel cozier somehow and feels like the perfect segue into peaceful, happy dreams.
The PDF Printable Gratitude Blurbs can be found HERE
Jessica Perkins is a Philly-based business owner, mother of three, a toy and children’s literature connoisseur, and a believer in intentional, playFULL parenting. She is the owner of Mama May I handcrafted toys, where she shares her belief that play IS the important work with families around the world. She believes in the power of words, connection, and inspires others to embrace their beautiful, messy lives. You can connect with her through her blog at www.JessicaPerkins.com.