Hello Sparks! So, I've been thinking (AGAIN!) What if we taught children the FEELING of being grateful rather than just the words "thank you"? We are always telling children when to say thank you. Say thank you for this... say thank you for that... there's a reason children repeat those words in an unenthusiastic, mono-tone voice. We may as well replace them with a parrot!
My worry is that by teaching children the action of gratitude rather than the feeling of gratitude, we are caring more about what society thinks of our children than how they think about themselves. We are sort of teaching them to fit into society mechanically rather than authentically.
I have been doing a course with Yale called "The Science of Wellbeing" and it is truly amazing what the feeling of gratitude does to our mental and emotional health. You know how we have "superfoods", well I now like to call gratitude a superfeeling! When we feel a true sense of gratitude, we improve our mood, reduce our stress levels, strengthen our immune system, lower blood pressure and encourage stronger social connections which has a whole host of benefits in itself! Teaching children how to be truly grateful is one of the biggest gifts we can give to their mental health, emotional health, society and the planet!
How do we teach the FEELING of gratitude? By teaching children (and ourselves!) how to savor!!! It's not a new idea to "live in the moment" or to "be present"... we all know it's one of the main ingredients to living our richest lives! It's putting it into practice which is the hard part. It's such a hard habit to implement in the first place, let alone when you have a family to look after and a 9-5 job that needs your focus for most of the day!
So what can we do to practice this habit wherever, whenever and in a way that encourages our children to be mindful and grateful? We can savor!!!
Let's start with our daily family meal. Every time you take a mouthful of food, SAVOR that food. Taste that food like you have never tasted it before! Take your time, close your eyes... really indulge in that mouthful of food. When you do this well, you are being fully present and mindful. This is the state of mind we are aspiring to be in, in order for true gratitude to sprout naturally.
Let's encourage children to savor whenever we can. Tell them where their food has come from and how it has arrived on their plate. Tell them about the farmers who have planted and reared it, the process that food has been through, the weather conditions it has needed in order to grow, how it's transported etc... be honest and tell them everything. Only when we know the effort, circumstances and sacrifice that has gone into our meals can we truly appreciate it and form our own opinions on the world. When we know how much time and effort has gone into getting one single carrot onto our plate, that carrot becomes something very special.
What do you think? Do you think we should let the feeling of gratitude trigger the action rather than the adult? Let me know! Would love to hear your opinions :)
Keep Sparking Joy!
We have 5 home schooling lesson plans, designed to teach children mindfulness and how to stay emotionally and mentally strong. You can browse our lesson plans here: https://www.sammyandthesparks.com/lesson-plans
And here: https://www.sammyandthesparks.com/shop
We also have some wonderful pop songs to help children be mindful and self-assured. You can find all our sing-along music videos here: https://www.sammyandthesparks.com/sing-a-long-1