November is a perfect time to reflect on the importance of teaching gratitude in child care as we celebrate Thanksgiving.
As children grow up, it is critical to instill values such as gratitude and thankfulness. As child care professionals, you have the opportunity and responsibility to be a role model in this task, and let's remember that everything we teach strengthens our personal lives as well.
Gratitude is a fundamental virtue that can have a positive impact on children's lives, but developing this virtue and practicing it is another matter, so teaching this quality from the earliest years can have a great impact on their lives.
When gratitude is developed in parallel, benefits are acquired such as:
Encourage empathy: Teaching children to be grateful helps them understand how others feel and develop empathy. This is essential to building healthy relationships.
Develop a positive attitude: Gratitude promotes a positive attitude toward life. Children who appreciate what they have tend to be happier and more optimistic.
Improves social skills: Grateful children tend to be more cooperative and friendly with others. Gratefulness helps them understand the importance of collaboration and mutual respect.
Experiences are valued: Having is counterbalanced by feeling and valuing experiences and relationships over possessions.
With these benefits of gratitude in mind, how can you put them into action in your child care program? Let's look at 5 strategies to put them into action right now.
Model gratitude: Children learn by watching adults. Expressing gratitude for small things, such as a meal or a toy, shows children how they can do it themselves.
Practice gratitude daily: Include a time in your daily routine to share something you are grateful for. This can be done in the form of a circle of gratitude before a meal or at the end of the day.
Promote generosity: Help children understand the importance of giving to others. Create charitable activities using this month to raise money for those in need. Create thank you cards for family, friends or community members.
Encourage reflection: Ask children about their feelings and thoughts. Encourage conversations about what it means to be thankful and how they can apply it to their friends, family and themselves.
Celebrate Thanksgiving: Use this holiday as an opportunity to talk about gratitude and being thankful for the important things in their lives. You can involve the children in preparing the meal and explain the history behind the celebration.
Having already seen the benefits and how to do it in daycare we reinforce this important quality with a study that supports the importance of teaching gratitude in child care, this was done by Dr. Jeffrey J. Froh, psychologist and gratitude expert. This study focused on teaching gratitude to children in schools. The results revealed that children who participated in a gratitude program experienced a significant improvement in their emotional well-being, more positive behavior and better academic performance.
In another study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology in 2015, psychologists Giacomo Bono and Jeffrey J. Froh investigated how gratitude affects mental health and well-being in children. The study focused on adolescents and young adults, but their findings are applicable to children of different ages.
A third study in the Journal of Happiness Studies in 2016 focused on the link between gratitude and altruistic behavior in school-aged children. The study was conducted with children between the ages of 9 and 11 and examined how gratitude influenced their willingness to help others.
The results of the study revealed that children who practiced gratitude on a regular basis showed more altruistic behavior compared to those who did not.
This confirms the importance of teaching gratitude in the educational environment and the role of professionals in this field to positively impact children's lives now and in the future. What you teach is not in vain. You are influencing all the time.
Let this month be a month of gratitude in your child care programs. Be thankful for the virtues that each of you have such as patience, empathy, love for children, and service for what you do every day in early childhood education.