Updated: Mar 19, 2019
Gratitude trains our focus towards the good moments (and the good lessons from the hard moments). For many years we've done a semi-consistent evening family thankfulness ritual. The kids take turns saying what they are grateful for from that day, or things they are happily looking forward to.
This started because my kids would suddenly melt down at the end of the day and talk about what upset them and how disappointing life was, even (or perhaps especially) after a great, fun-filled day. Or they would say they were worried about nightmares. It was clear we needed to practice thinking positively at the end of the day.
Younger kids tend to summarize the whole day, which is fine by me, and older kids pick out a few highlights. Occasionally, a kid says just one or two things, or passes. I let it go because the peer pressure or new good events brings them back the next night.
Although I do this with the kids, and I pause to notice good moments throughout the day, sometimes if I get in a funk this doesn't cut it, and I need to write the good things for a few days, and earlier in the day is better. I found a cute blank journal and sat down while the kids were occupied, which is something in itself to be grateful for, and generally found I could fill several to a dozen lines. It's a great attitude reset.
The pre-puberty "attitude shift" (ahem) in our family seems to occur around age 9, and for the girl who hit this age most recently, I gave her a small lined book from the dollar store, to be her gratitude journal, and assigned it to her as part of her school. It's been a help to her as well, as she begins to internalize the lesson that her attitude is her responsibility.
I've also noticed that reading the Bible and ancient history reminds me of the blessings of the present and the peaceful times I live in. While watching the news can be depressing, reading about the struggles of ancient peoples fills me with appreciation for modern plumbing, food choices, education, and general peace and safety.
Do you have specific ways to practice gratitude in your family? Please share!