Thanksgiving marks the beginning to the holiday season where many seem to intentionally put family, friends and giving thanks at the forefront of their minds.
While our homes, neighborhood streets, and malls become dressed in holiday decor, we want to be sure that our hearts stay just as festive and present so that we may fully enjoy the beautiful moments we experience. If we don’t make the conscious effort to be present, we may find ourselves the day before the holiday wondering where the time went, and stressing ourselves out while we hurry to find last minute gifts.
A way in which we can begin to practice being present is practicing Mindful Gratitude. The idea of being thankful and gracious doesn’t have to end as we finish eating dessert on Thanksgiving night. Practicing gratitude leads us to become more mindful as we begin to notice small moments which we would have otherwise ignored. Consciously thinking about things we are grateful for will lead us to slow down and become more mindful. There also have been many studies which show how it can increase happiness over time.
The idea of Mindful Gratitude is not only beneficial for adults, but it is also important for kids. If we raise our kids with the healthy habit of expressing gratitude every day, they will have the tools they need when facing difficult times and they may experience less anxiety. Overall, they will become healthier and happier kids!
Here are three easy ideas you can do to practice Mindful Gratitude during the course of a day - for your own practice or with kids of any age.
1. Starting the Day
Morning routines are often rushed and crazed. If this is indeed what your child experiences in their morning, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. Take a moment either while eating breakfast or during the walk/drive to school to discuss, “What are you looking forward to today?” It will have your child think about something positive before they begin their school day and it increases positive communication as it gives you the parent an idea about their mindset, and what to talk about later that evening.
2. After School
Have you fallen victim to the boring school report?
“What did you learn in school today?” “Nothing”
Trust me, there is a lot going on in schools all over the world! Have your child focus on themselves with the question, “What kind thing did you do in school today?” This will have your child think differently about themselves. Furthermore, as they do kind things for others they will learn to find joy in doing good.
3. Bedtime Routine
Before going to bed recall three things you are grateful which took place that day. If this is difficult, start with one and build up to three over time. Identifying positive events - even on "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days" - will increase your child’s ability to appreciate the silver linings in life, which will in turn make them more resilient and a more well-adjusted child.
Remember it takes 21 days to build a new habit. To see the benefits within your child (or yourself), be sure to continue the practice of Mindful Gratitude each and every day.
Counselor De Jesus
Want to learn more on how to become a more Reflective and Mindful Parent? Click the link to get your FREE workbook.
Vanessa De Jesus Guzman is a former teacher, school counselor and licensed associate counselor serving children and families in the northern New Jersey area. To learn more visit www.freetobemindful.com.