Nov 3, 2010

Teaching a child to be grateful

I noticed lately that 4 year old Mr. B is a bit of a complainer. Not a whiner, mind you, but he develops a very pessimistic attitude at times. It's not a quality I want to see develop (or be ignored), so I thought it might help him if we started his very own "Things I Like" book (the child version of a Gratitude Journal). Every day he's here with me, I will ask him to tell me three things he likes (person, place or thing), and I'll write them down in his book for him.

We started this on Tuesday, and here is Mr. B's first entry:

1. Going to the car wash.
2. Building things with Lego's.
3. Building Lego towers.

Obviously 2 and 3 are similar, but it took him longer than I expected to come up with three things, so I didn't want to be picky about it. His having to think long and hard to come up with three things just validated the need for this activity.

I also have visions of him looking at this book years down the line. I think it will be a record of great memories for him. For example, Tuesday morning (before starting this book), we did go to the car wash, he struck up a conversation with a very nice older gentleman, and we had a nice time! When he's a bit older and sees that written in his book, he may just remember that very experience with me.

Today's kids often seem ungrateful for what they have, and they often have more than they need. But who is stopping to teach them the art of gratitude?  I'm hoping this book will simply get Mr. B. into the mental habit of realizing he has a lot to be grateful for.

Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity:
it must be produced and discharged and used up
in order to exist at all.
 ~William Faulkner

Who does not thank for little
will not thank for much.
~Estonian Proverb

1 comment:

Karen said...

I think Mr. B is awfully lucky to have a grandma who teaches him these important lessons.