SSGP provides parents with the tools and know-how to help their teens gain the mindset and confidence to succeed in high school, college, and beyond.
As we are celebrating Thanksgiving this month, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss gratitude. Choosing to feel and be grateful is a mindset; it is a habit. Regardless of how you are feeling, or what you’re dealing with in life, gratitude is a way of looking at the world and seeing, and appreciating, all the good things.
Feeling and taking action about gratitude has physical and psychological benefits. Parents can help their teens become aware of those benefits by modeling their own awareness, and including their teens in some actions. Gratitude comes from the heart and encourages you to feel peace with what you have in your life. When you choose to be grateful, you will start to attract even more positive things to be grateful for into your life.
Gratitude can make us happier and healthier. Seeing the world through grateful eyes helps us sleep better and wards off depression. How can we help our children to be more grateful and reap the benefits of a grateful mindset?
Encourage your child to write down what they’re grateful for. This is perfect to start as a Thanksgiving exercise, but encourage them to add a page each week in their planner to do this more often. If your teens aren’t as organized or receptive to this exercise, have patience and give them grace. When parents become grateful about where their teen’s level of organization or ability to communicate is right now, instead of nagging about where they wish it would be, it gives their teen the space to think about it, instead of feeling judged about it.
With gift-giving season coming, consider family experiences rather than material gifts. Studies have shown that teenagers are more grateful for experiences, such as a nice family meal, a hike in the woods, or a family trip. The memories made will outlive any electronic device or outfit. If you’re concerned that your teen isn’t showing appreciation for what they have in their life, show them a wider world view. Take them to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen. Show then that gratitude isn’t about accumulating ‘stuff’ but about realizing what you have in life and paying it forward.
Anxiety can manifest the negatives in our life, while gratitude helps us magnify the positives. As parents, we need to stress to our teens that they should lean into those things in life that they’re grateful for. Gratitude helps to make every situation better, and while not every teen is a ‘glass half full’ kind of person, gratitude is a mindset and a habit. It can be learned. One of the best things you can do for your child is to model gratitude in your own life.
Once the conversation about gratitude is started, let it be something you work on as a family all year long. When your kids are off at college, text them things that inspire you. Maybe it’s fresh snowfall on the ground, or a gorgeous sunset. Share gratitude with your teen and watch how they start to see all the things to be grateful for in their own lives.
One of the greatest gifts we can give to our children is to focus on the positives and teach them to appreciate the good in their lives. Things that matter aren’t in stores, they are in the heart, and a grateful heart is one of the best things they can develop as they enter adulthood.
As we enter this season of gratitude, I hope you will take some of these tips to explore gratitude with your teenagers.