With Thanksgiving upon us, this is the perfect time of year to start gratitude journals. Shown to improve attitude and well-being, gratitude journals are a great way to help your child practice writing and focus on life’s simple joys. What’s more, they can be tailored for all ages and abilities, and working on journals makes a great family activity.
Here are some general guidelines to help you get started:
1. Design: Using notebooks, scrap paper, or even found objects, kids can create gratitude journals that are fun and whimsical. Follow these links for a free printable and an example of a “smashbook” – a gratitude journal made from scrap items.
2. Timing: Make expectations clear but realistic. Set aside time in your day for your whole family to write in journals, ask your child to write for 5 minutes each night before bed, or make it a weekly ritual.
3. Content: Older kids can free write; others can make a list of five items for which they are grateful. Young children can draw pictures and discuss what the picture represents.
4. Topic: Choose a specific theme or ask them to think broadly about their lives: day-to-day joys like having their favorite sandwich for lunch, a smile from a friend, or a favor someone did for them. If it helps, ask them to write about one of the following topics:
* Something positive that happened
* Something kind that another person did
* Something or someone they have in their lives
* Something they did for someone else that felt good
Research shows that focusing on the blessings in our lives has a ripple effect on our psychological well-being. It propels us to feel and behave more optimistically, sleep better, and handle stress more effectively.
Keeping a gratitude journal may help kids improve their attitudes, interpersonal relationships, and reactions to stress. Tucked inside the lessons of gratitude they will be practicing their writing skills as well.