“I’m done eating. I don’t like <insert name of healthy food here>.”
“But she took my horsie, and I want it!”
“I want ______. Now.”
If you have a toddler or preschooler, chances are, you have heard phrases like these. And while I know it’s technically “normal,” every time my son says something like this, I cringe a little. Wasn’t I going to be the mom who raises a kind, gracious little one who appreciates all that he has and sees how lucky he is. Hardly. But, it’s when I started focusing on gratitude in my own life that I decided to share it with our kids, as well.
Follow the data…and start small
There is a good deal of data linking gratitude with happiness and generosity. The more grateful you are, the more happy, healthy, likeable, and giving you will be. Convenient! Even kids who are themselves materialistic are more generous if they are grateful for what they have.
In our family, we started small with nightly gratitudes. Initially, our little guy would name whatever activity was at school that day. “I’m grateful for playing with Charlotte.” But, over time, he started to deliberate about his nightly gratitude. And now, he often expresses gratitude about his friendships, good fortune, and family.And we use the language of gratitude with him to inspire his kindness toward others. “Are you grateful for your friends? Why would you make fun of Hashi for not catching the ball?” He really gets it.
Celebrate World Kindness Day with gratitude
Today is World Kindness Day, and to celebrate, we’re sharing a few practices and children’s books that will help inspire gratitude, and as a result, increased kindness in all of our kids:
- Start the conversation at dinner. Even if it’s for five minutes, focus the conversation on gratitude at mealtimes. Consider having a jar of conversation starters about gratitude (we like these) to encourage a fruitful discussion.
- End the day with a single gratitude. Incorporate saying a gratitude at bedtime each night. Keeping track of these in a journal can even more directly create a “gratitude mindset.”
- Read your children stories that give them an opportunity to express gratitude, and to have a window into experiences other than their own.
At Zoobean, we believe in the power of a great book that sparks conversation and understanding with kids and loved ones. Our curators, all librarians or educators who happen to be parents, have recommended these five books to encourage thankfulness and kindness. What things do you do, or books do you read to inspire gratitude?
5 Books To Start the Conversation Around Giving and Gratitude
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen Annabelle has a seemingly endless box of yarn and knits clothing for her entire town. When someone tries to steal her yarn box, the yarn is no longer available. In this magical story, we learn that kindness and generosity make the yarn plentiful.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney This is the exquisite, wordless version of the beloved Aesop’s fable of the lion and the mouse. The lion spares a tiny mouse, and later in the story that same mouse returns the lion’s kindness, and in an unlikely situation, manages to save the lion. Read the full description here.
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming and Stacey Dressen-McQueen This book, based on the experiences of the author’s mother, is about a box that goes to a town destroyed after WWII. The young girl who receives these goods, Katje, shares them with her community. Katje’s gratitude for this box results in an even greater reward for her and her community. Read the full description here.