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3 Tips for Modeling Gratitude year-round

3 Tips for Modeling Gratitude

It’s the season of Thanksgiving, but we can show our children that gratitude is a spirit we can share any time of year. 

Kindness and appreciation are qualities we all want to model to our children. Gratitude goes a long way in this world and children can never learn it too early or often. Parents, teachers and any adult in a child’s life can easily be an example of gratitude and teach it to our little companions.

Paige Phillips, Upper School Dean of Students at Spartanburg Day School, said all it takes is acting with intention and purpose to display positive behaviors to children. She noted that at her school, the notion of gratitude is used daily, but during the month of November, teachers and staff go the extra mile to express their appreciation for others.

“To model anything is to set an example through deed and action,” Phillips said. “To model gratitude is no different than modeling good posture or the use of correct grammar. We, as formidable forces in children’s lives, have a responsibility to display acts of kindness, empathy, steadfastness and gratitude each day.”

Phillips had three main pieces of advice for those looking to be more purposeful in front of little ones with gratitude. 

First, slow down and notice the good things in your life. Phillips recalled a former physics teacher at the school, Al Finklestein, who said, “Most of our lives it rains and pours goodness; we just don’t notice it.” Phillips advises parents that when we have one of those ‘when it rains it pours’ days, to take a breath and find the good that surrounds us.

Next, Phillips said adults should be willing to be vulnerable and express themselves openly. Parents who can show that softer side set a great example for their children to also be open. Talks around the dinner table or before bed are a great time to talk with kids about what we’re grateful for in our daily lives and encourage them to also open up about their feelings and what they’re grateful for.

Lastly, adults should act with intentionality and be willing to extend forgiveness to others and to themselves. If people can respond positively to transgressions and offer mercy, the result is often gratitude. Adults can easily model this to the children in their lives. Both sides of this – gratitude and forgiveness – can lead to a life of happiness.

“Gratitude has been proven to have a variety of benefits, and if we, as parents and educators, set the example, our children will surely live better lives because of it,” Phillips said.