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Nurturing Hearts & Noggins

Promoting academic, social, and emotional learning for lifelong success

Attitude of Gratitude

During a recent conversation with my mother, she commented about how quickly she felt the holiday season was upon us. She said that she hated how quickly it seemed to be passing by, and how she wished that she could bottle it up because people seem to be a bit kinder, gentler, and more grateful during this time of year. So, this got me to thinking... What if we cultivated this type of attitude within our youth regularly, so they may grow into kind, caring, grateful adults? Oh, that's right, we can! Here's how it works:

First, we must acknowledge that an attitude of gratitude can be taught.  Although young people typically are not able to develop a "mature" level of gratitude until ages 10-14, children as young as 6 can begin to understand the concept of being thankful and grateful.  According to Professor Giacomo Bono at California State University-Fullerton, when youth reach the ages of 10-14 they are "less egocentric and develop the ability to empathize" (as cited in ASCD Education Update). 

Here are some strategies that can be implemented with students:
  • Have students keep a gratitude journal.  When students consistently articulate what they are thankful for, they tend to have a more positive outlook on life and are generally happier.
  • Talk openly and intentionally with students about the benefits of gratitude.  When students understand why  they are doing something (or the sacrifices made for them to receive something), they'll buy into it more, and begin to develop a grateful mindset.
  • Engage students in gratitude activities.  Ideas may include:  service learning, writing thank-you letters, and role-playing.
  • Increase opportunities for cooperative learning.  Students may naturally begin to develop an attitude of gratitude by cooperatively working together, and helping one another learn .
  • Model it.  Again, gratitude can be taught.  When teachers and parents model an attitude of gratitude, students are encouraged to do the same.

So, beyond the holiday season, lets cultivate children's gratitude mindset.  What are some additional ways that we can do this?  What strategies have you tried within your schools and/or homes?


Source:  Tapping into the power of gratitude.  (2013, November).  ASCD Education Update, 55, 1-7.

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