Collection: A Grateful Child Is a Happy Child: How to Foster Happiness through Gratitude Journaling
Discover how to inspire gratitude in your child this Thanksgiving with gratitude journaling.
Want to instill gratefulness in your child this Thanksgiving and beyond? Discover the lifelong benefits of gratitude journaling and how to get started.
How do we explain gratitude to kids? Gratitude is a positive emotion that helps you recognize how much you have to be thankful for in your life.
There are many ways to teach kids about gratitude and help them learn to appreciate the things they have in their lives. One meaningful way is through a gratitude journal or gratitude notebook, which can help kids focus on the good aspects of their lives and express appreciation for them.
What Are the Benefits of Gratitude Journaling for Kids?
There are many benefits to gratitude journaling, especially for kids. Children are less likely to complain about their lives when they possess the skill of practicing gratitude regularly. Let’s face it, worrying about what the other kids at school have is a big problem for today’s kids and social media only exacerbates this problem. When they see the highlight reels of all the fun things their friends have and do, it can make them feel like their lives are boring and breed negativity.
Gratitude journaling is the perfect antidote to this growing problem! It’s a way to counteract negative feelings by guiding children to focus on the positive. One of the most powerful things you can teach your children is the ability to appreciate what they have.
It’s easy to see why there are so many benefits to teaching your child to practice gratitude, but here’s a quick Top 5 List:
- Gratitude improves mental health by lowering stress and anxiety, improving coping skills, and increasing feelings of optimism.
- Grateful kids tend to have better social skills and greater empathy for others.
- Grateful kids tend to be more kind and generous.
- Gratitude improves physical well-being, too! It is a predictor of heart health and has been linked with lowered blood pressure and improved immune functioning.
- Kids who practice gratitude regularly report feeling happier during difficult times, such as during an illness or experiencing the loss of a loved one.
Once you see all the benefits of journaling, you may realize it can be an excellent practice for you as well as for your child. Practicing gratitude journaling with your child can also be a bonding experience that enriches your family relationships and enhances your family's outlook on life.
How Gratitude Journaling Can Help Children Better Express Their Feelings
Gratitude journaling is a fantastic way to teach children how to express their emotions in a healthy, safe manner. Today’s kids tend to struggle with more anxiety and depression than any generation in history. Arming them with the tools to express their emotions through journaling gives them something they can use throughout their lives.
Along with expressing feelings of gratitude in their journals, kids can express:
- Hopes and dreams for the future
Rather than keeping their emotions inside, journaling teaches them to express these feelings in written words and doodles. In some cases, children do not feel like they can safely express what they are feeling inside, which is why teaching them how to journal establishes and nurtures a skill that can serve as an essential outlet.
What Are Some Ways Children Can Practice Gratitude?
There are so many ways that kids can improve their mental health and increase feelings of gratitude with simple daily habits. Here are just a few ideas:
- Praise and thank others for their hard work.
- Spend time volunteering in the community.
- Create a gratitude jar and write down all of the things you're grateful for every night before bed.
- Share 3 things they're grateful for every night at dinner; other family members can do the same!
- Keep a journal with all of your favorite memories and note what is one of your most meaningful experiences.
10 Easy Gratitude Activities for Kids
While it may seem like a daunting task to teach the skill of gratitude, it is actually much easier than you may think. Gratitude is an attitude and skill that we can practice every day. To get started, ask your child what they are grateful for at the end of each day. Writing down their list will help them see all of the good things in their life and will hopefully translate into a more thankful attitude on a daily basis.
You can also help your child write thank-you notes for friends, family members, and teachers. This is a great way to improve their writing skills while reinforcing the skill of gratitude!
Here are 10 fun gratitude journaling activities that kids can try:
These will work whether they are using a gratitude journal or putting down their thoughts with a pencil and paper.
- What are 5 adjectives that describe how I feel today?
- Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself.
- Make a list of 3 things you are grateful for.
- Practice smiling at 3 people today. Tell them thank you because _______(e.g., "Because I know they work hard every day!").
- Practice saying please and thank you 5 times each today.
- Go outside and name all of the things that you notice around you.
- Write a letter to someone thanking them for something they have done for you recently. You can also write a note or draw a picture and stick it in your family's takeout order at a restaurant.
- Take 5 minutes to sit by yourself quietly and think about the past week. Think of 1 thing that went well each day and write about it.
- How is this particular day different from yesterday? What makes today special?
- Find something new to appreciate in your life every day and write a quick paragraph to describe it.
For more ideas, check out our FREE Thanksgiving themed activity sheet on gratitude!
If you're feeling stuck helping a child who is struggling with gratitude journaling, here are some extra ideas to get the gratitude juices flowing. Write about:
- Time with loved ones or pets
- A yummy meal
- A favorite holiday tradition
- An outdoor walk enjoying nature
- A new book to read with mom or dad
- A test that went well at school
- A friendship that makes them happy
- A story about their ideal day
Keeping track of the little things in daily life can add up to a big happiness boost over time. In one study, college students documented three things they were grateful for each day for ten weeks. Half of the group was taught about the benefits of gratitude and encouraged to practice it daily. Researchers found that both groups experienced increases in happiness, but those who journaled reported increased positive emotions more consistently than those who didn't.
Help Your Child Practice Gratitude on Thanksgiving and All Year Long
Whether you want to help your child start a gratitude journal or you have another way to practice gratitude, Thanksgiving is an excellent time to begin the journey. Being grateful for what we have helps us appreciate the little things in life and builds healthy skills that will last a lifetime.
If you decide you would like to get your child started with gratitude journaling, check out the beautiful, spiral-bound, hardcover gratitude journal from our team at Doodle Hog. It features 100 thick pages with pre-written gratitude prompts and plenty of freestyle journaling space to establish and nurture your child’s gratitude journaling this Thanksgiving and beyond.