“The ability of children to process information, including the importance of being thankful, varies depending upon their age and developmental level” Sophie Michelin.
I grew up being thankful because my mom taught me so. She unconsciously inculcated me through the act of prayer where she would spend time thanking God for things I thought were insignificant. I vividly recall the long evening prayers that would virtually capture every activity of the day. Often time when she was done praying we were already snoring. The prayer sometimes sounded like this
“Father Lord I thank you for today, for waking us up with health and strength. Thank you for being able to breathe and move around without being assisted. Even protecting us all while going to work and school without any accident. The ability to buy groceries without being cheated or sold spoilt or expired items. (And when there was a change in season) Thank you Lord for the harmattan, for the cold have helped us sleep well when ‘NEPA’ takes light. I won’t forget to thank you that the sore throat, cough and cartta that are doing their rounds in this season haven’t entered our home and will not enter … ” and she will continue till she finally says, Amen. Lol!
In today’s world, teaching our children to be grateful at all times and in all things should be a deliberate effort. For virtues not lived nor taught are rarely displayed by our children. How would your child learn contentment and gratitude when all they watch you display and portray is a grumpy attitude and endless complaints.
A few days ago, while surfing the net I stumbled on Sophie Michelin blog and was amazed at the wholesome content on raising children. What struck me most was the ‘gratitude game’ which I tried with my kids the very next day. The gratitude game is a fun way to teach your child different things they can be grateful about. In her words, you can try it “while driving in the car or taking a walk, you could start with, “I’m grateful that we have this time together. What are you grateful for? Allow your kids to answer and then keep the game going back and forth until you reach your destination or the game naturally ends.”
And so last week I introduced the game as we drove to school; it went like thus:
Me: I am grateful for life and strength
Mimi: I am grateful that mum is taking me to school
Didi: I am grateful for my sister
Me: I am grateful for daddy, Mimi, Didi
Mimi: I am grateful for my aunty Philo and all my friends
Didi: I am grateful for my friends – Temitayo, Adeife , Shawn and the list continued
Me: I am grateful for being able to drop you both at school
Mimi: I am grateful for the school bus
Didi: I am grateful for all the trees
And we continue taking turns till we arrived school. They next morning my kids chose the gratitude game over their usual morning confessions.
According to Sophie Michelin’s blog, another way to teach our children gratitude is to have them write down what they are grateful for. This applies to ages 7 to 10, or have them draw the things they are thankful for (ages 4 -6). She suggests that older children can help out in charity organizations to value the everyday things life offers.
The avenues we chose to teach our children gratitude doesn’t matter, the important thing is to begin now, for a sense of gratitude helps a child develop empathy for others. Other benefits of this act are also seen later in their lives as they grow to become adults who experience a higher level of happiness and satisfaction.