Gratitude is a thought. A feeling. An emotion.


And it’s not a small one at that. It’s an expression of a happy past and a pathway to a better future. Gratitude can open up many doors in our lives. It can bring a smile to our face at our lowest points. It can make us feel like everything we have is enough. It can make us forgot about our ‘wants”. And let us just be.


What can be more powerful than that?


Now, unfortunately, as important as it is for us to be and feel grateful, it’s the first thing to be forgotten when we get caught up in the whirlwind of daily life. When we see a really cool bag that a friend is holding, we forget about the twenty bags that we love and bought sitting in our cupboard. When we see a newly designed home that a relative has moved into, we forget about the home we put together so lovingly. When we see incredible looking Instagram posts of everyone’s weekend first thing Monday morning, we wish we had the same and forget about what we did. We forget. We forget to be grateful. We forget to take a minute and just say a simple Thank You for everything we have and everything we’ve done. We want, and we complain and then we want some more and complain some more.


Sometimes of course, when something amazing happens to us, we are grateful. As we should be! But true gratitude should be present at all times. We should be grateful when we have and when we don’t, we should be grateful when we’re happy and when we’re sad, we should be grateful when life gives us what we want and when it doesn’t.


How do you do that? Simple. Make it a habit. Just like you eat, bathe, sleep, do household chores, take care of your kids whether life is up or down, you practise gratitude. It’s not easy, it’s not something we’re born with, but then so is everything else. We were all taught how to do everything else in our world, so why not gratitude? We teach our kids how to feed themselves, bathe themselves, study, socialise, everything. Let’s add the practice of gratitude to that list. And you’d be surprised how much you learn while teaching your little ones!


How to help your toddler to be grateful –

The best time to start teaching your little one how to be grateful is the second they start talking! Don’t worry about whether it’s too early or whether they can understand you. They can and they will. They absorb everything you say, internalise it and remember it. (We’ve all been in social settings where our 2-year-old has spouted off something we thought we said in the privacy of our house and didn’t want to be repeated in public!) When you have had a great day in the park, or a lovely weekend away or even just a delicious dinner together, talk to your child about it. Tell them that you loved that experience and that you are so grateful for it. When they do something nice for you, get you a flower from their evening in the playground, hug them and tell them you are immensely grateful to have them in your life. Another thing that works wonders is to sit with your little one in front of all their toys and talk about how lucky they are to have so many things. Talk about how some children are not that lucky. Ask your child if they’d be willing to share some of their things with them. More often than not, they will surprise you. Make a box of things that you and your child pick together and go to your local orphanage to donate it. Make this an annual ritual, maybe on their birthdays. If nothing else, lets their journey on the road to gratitude start with seeing how you as an adult have imbibed it in your life. Let them hear you talking about it with other adults. Be their guiding star.




How to help your little child to be grateful –

Very soon, your baby will learn to read and then to write, and that is when you can take your journey of gratitude with them a step further. Get into bed every night with them at bedtime with a little journal. Talk to your child about how every day they will write about one thing that they were grateful for that day. To begin with, it’s absolutely ok to write for your child, as long as they’re the ones telling you what to write. It’s also ok if your child struggles to find that one thing. Instead of berating them, that opportunity to recount the day and gently point out everything they could have been grateful for. You’d be surprised at what they can come up with. I have heard all kinds of answers from my daughter when she was 4, ranging from ‘I’m grateful for sharing biscuits with poor children’, to ‘I’m grateful for my fun bath’! To make the entire experience more fun, maybe let them choose the diary, let them choose their own special place to put it or any other details they want to add to their “gratitude time”. Mine has selected some stamps and every time she writes in her journal, she uses those stamps on the page to decorate it!


Another simple yet fun idea is a Gratitude or Happiness Jar. It can be a really good activity for the whole family to be a part of. And there are no constraints on when you put something in the jar. Everytime you’re happy or grateful for something, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in. It can be thrice a day, it can once in three days. The important thing is that you do it. And at the end of the year, you take it out and read it together. The simple act of seeing all your happy moments at one time in one place can make anyone grateful beyond belief.


If for any reason though, your child does not take to journaling or talking about gratitude, that’s also ok. Its ok to let them see you practise it. Its ok to let them hear you say it multiple times a day. That you’re are grateful for your home, your situation in life, the help and support you have around you, your friends, anything. That’s all it takes really.



How to help your teenager to be grateful –

As they grow, their minds and thinking abilities expand and it’s a great time to go deeper into this journey of gratitude. By now, journaling, talking or thinking about gratitude is probably a part of your teenager’s day anyway. You can now go a little further by helping them articulate why they are grateful for the things they are. Articulating the gratitude will help them understand the concept a little more. For example, instead of saying ‘I am grateful for this house’, help them think why – ‘I am grateful for this house which gives me space to grow, read and anchor myself.’ Now that they’re probably at an age where they understand money and want more things, talk to them about the difference between ‘need’ and ‘want’ before buying something new. Let them see you do this too. Of course, nothing works if they don’t see you do it too. Let them see you be kind to your help and thankful for their support. Demonstrate living gratitude to your children. Communicating it through actions and thoughts. They will follow suit. If not today, then tomorrow. Giving can also become a natural extension of this. If one is grateful then one is happy to give. At this age, children can go volunteer their time or donate money to a cause they feel strongly about. Knowing you are giving up something like time or money to help someone else has an incredible power to it.


It might seem daunting, but it’s not. At the heart of it, it’s only a way to look at everything in your life that’s going well and to focus on it. That’s all. And if we all did this, imagine the incredibly positive next generation we could contribute to.