Having an attitude of gratitude can support a state of relaxation. When we feel grateful, a state of wellbeing and ease, we feel relaxed, centered, at peace and in love with the world around us. We can help our kids to feel the same.
I was recently reminded in a mindfulness class for educators that appreciation can be the train that leads to the state of being grateful. By showing our kids how to look for things to appreciate, to practice expressing and sharing gratitude with others, and actively search out ways to be grateful and to celebrate gratitude during the day, we help them to establish this sense of wellbeing in their mind and bodies. In this way gratitude practice is a relaxation technique because the more our kids feel good within their minds and bodies, the more they are practicing relaxation and training their bodies to default to relaxation practice when faced with struggle or stress, either perceived or directly experienced.
One of the best ways to inspire kids to appreciate is for us adults to model it for them. When they are steeped in an atmosphere of appreciation on a daily basis, it becomes what they inherently know and embody.
So, here’s some fun ways to cook up gratitude and relaxation together.
Watch a Gratitude Video
To prime your minds and hearts for gratitude practice, watch one of these videos with your child:
Make a Gratitude Jar
Make a gratitude jar with your child to collect items of appreciation throughout each day. In the evening, discuss what you collected and share with each other. Create some little slips of paper like below or design your own. Use colored paper too! Each night, pause, set up your cozy, relaxed atmosphere, your THANKFUL time, and enjoy the time to look back over the day to collect the moments of appreciation.
Take a Thankful Breath
Encourage your child to take a “Thankful Breath” whenever they see their favorite color throughout the day. If green is IT, whenever she/he sees something green, pause, breathe in saying softly (either out loud or to yourself) “Thank you” and breathe out, saying softly “Thank you.”
Practice before bed each night, breathing in “Thank you for this day,” breathing out “Thank you for this day.”