Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and our preschoolers are getting into the holiday spirit by reading books, engaging in group discussions, and creating beautiful artwork centered around the theme of gratitude. Cultivating gratitude has been shown to help increase children’s happiness and self-esteem, while also improving their relationships with others.
Continue the learning at home by creating a gratitude journal with your child. Journaling is a great way for him to express himself creatively, self reflect, practice fine motor skills, and develop an appreciation for the people and things in his life. Below are some tips for getting started.
1. Create the journal
Go shopping with your child and purchase a blank notebook or three-ring binder. Encourage him to decorate a cover for the journal using markers, crayons, stickers or photographs. Allow his creativity to run wild. On each blank page of the notebook, write “I am grateful for” at the top and leave a place for the date. If you’re using a binder, you can download copies of our free printable to insert inside.
2. Integrate journaling into your child’s routine
Determine the best 5-10 minutes each day for your family to sit down and journal without interruptions. Have your child draw, write or describe to you items that he is grateful for. Consistency is key for developing a habit, so try to follow the same sequence of events each day (i.e. dinner time, journal time, bath time, bed time).
3. Give prompts if needed
Expressing gratitude might not come easily at first for your child and that’s okay. Prompt him by asking questions, such as “Who is a family member or friend you are grateful for and why?”, “What is one thing you enjoyed doing today?” or “What is one of your favorite toys?” Ask him to draw a picture and if age appropriate, write a few words describing the drawing. Model positive behavior by sharing your own moment of gratitude for the day.
4. Set small goals
Set a short term goal with your child, such as journaling each day in November. At the end of the month, remind him of the fun he had by reviewing the entries with him. You might be surprised to learn that he wants to continue using his gratitude journal! If so, brainstorm a new goal with him and create a new journal if necessary.