Are You Teaching Them Gratitude?

Your kids should be grateful. Not to you and mom, of course, you’re just doing your job. You’re legally and biologically obligated. Your kids should be grateful for everything. We all should be. This is a wonderful time to be alive. Even if it wasn’t—it’s amazing that any of us are alive at all. The odds are astronomically small that we are. 

So it’s important that you teach your kids about gratitude. Because it’s so easy to take life, to take the gifts we have been given, for granted. Especially when we’re stressed, when you’re a kid with homework or acne or a room to clean. 

Jason Harris, the CEO of Mekanism—an award-winning ad agency—and the author of The Soulful Art of Persuasion, has an interesting practice for how to persuade your kids to have a more grateful outlook about life. As he writes:

As I tell our boys, you’ve got to be great—but you’ve also got to be grateful. Every Sunday night we write down in our book three things for which we are individually grateful. I know this is not an earth-shattering idea. And I’m not the kind of guy who loves shouting out my “intentions” in a yoga class. But this practice has made a world of difference for me and my kids. It resets you and gets you prepped for the week ahead. 

The things they write down can be big-ticket items like a place to live, or just the fact that they are alive and kicking. But they can also be little things, like something good that happened at school or a play in a game. What’s helpful about writing these reflections in a notebook is that you can consult previous entries and jog your memory on truly trying days. It helps them go back and tap into those feelings when they may seem lost and hopeless.

My boys like the routine and look forward to it each week. This is an exercise that takes less than ten minutes, and yet the effects can be dramatic. Keeping thoughts of gratitude on the surface of your mental life can help you realize that whatever might be going wrong today, on balance we all have a ton to be positive about.

Beautiful. And how much more beautiful would the world be if more of us took up this practice? And practiced it with our kids?

P.S. This was originally sent on February 14, 2020. Sign up today for the Daily Dad’s email and get our popular 11 page eBook, “20 Things Great Dads Do Everyday.”

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