Gratitude Journaling With Your Kids

Did you know that scientific studies have shown that individuals who write in a gratitude journal each night report increased levels of happiness in as little as six weeks? I can personally vouch for these study results. Sometime this summer I started keeping a gratitude journal of my own and I wholeheartedly believe I am better for it.

Each night I write three things in my journal that happened during the day for which I am grateful or which made me happy. I don’t write anything fancy or spend a lot of time with it. Most nights I just jot down three short bullet points that all together don’t even come to half a page. But those brief entries have made a huge difference in my perspective. And I get why. Throughout each day I see myself scanning my experiences for things that can be included in my journal that night. Imagine what it does to your relationship with life to spend your whole day seeking out positivity! I assure you it’s a whole lot better than the reverse.

I’ve recently introduced this practice to my kids. To be clear, the younger one is not yet capable of journaling, and the older one thinks that writing in a journal is an ancient form of torture devised by a sadistic mother to punish young boys. But they are both willing to spend a few moments at bedtime telling me about one or two things they were grateful for that day.

Each morning, as we say our goodbyes for the day, I remind them to spend some time thinking about what they will share with me that night. And each night, as we get settled for bed, I ask them to tell me about what made them feel good or grateful during the day. The consistency of doing this each day is important because my kids are learning that even on their worst days, they can still find some good news. And on the nights when they can’t come up with anything on their own, I ask questions: Did you do anything fun during recess? Did you enjoy the pancakes I made for breakfast before school? Did you finish your homework in time to play Minecraft? Usually we are able to find something to be thankful for together.

Last night, as we settled down for bed, my daughter told me she was thankful for coloring pretty pictures with her friends, Eli and Zo-Zo. My son was grateful for having a full-ice hockey practice (even if he was “robbed” in the shoot-out). As they grow up, I hope these bedtime conversations will evolve into journaling practices of their own. In the meantime, I feel good about encouraging them to develop a heightened awareness of all the good things in their life because, I can assure you, it’s a whole lot better than the reverse.



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