Practicing gratitude in our everyday lives can lead to many positive outcomes, and helping students develop an “attitude of gratitude” is important both in the classroom and in life.
Researcher and psychology professor, Giacomo Bono, Ph.D. found that “gratitude may be strongly linked with life skills such as cooperation, purpose, creativity and persistence and, as such, gratitude is a vital resource that parents, teachers and others who work with young people should help youth build up as they grow up.” Research suggests that people who are grateful have a better sense of self-worth and are happier and healthier. Here are some things for you to remember as you encourage your students to be grateful.
1. Flip the Script
Don’t let your students get caught up in the negativity when their day doesn’t go as planned. We can model and guide students on how to look for the good, even on the worst days. Our students will become more resilient and learn to look for the silver linings.
2. Be a Role Model, but Let Them Explore
We are powerful role models for our students, and they are watching us to see how we react to situations. Express genuine gratitude when interacting with your students and other staff members. Your authenticity and example are perhaps one of the most valuable tools to encourage students to practice gratitude in their interactions with each other and the world around them. Don’t “force” children to say thank you or express gratitude. They should be able to find their own way to practice gratitude so that it becomes intrinsic.
3. Be Flexible
Sometimes, students’ expressions of gratitude may not be ideal. They can be a bit sarcastic or funny. Don’t look at it as a negative. It means they’re working on it! If a student responds to the question, “What are you thankful for?” with, “I’m glad we didn’t have to run a mile in PE today,” appreciate they’re using that “grateful muscle.” In time, they will use it enough to express gratitude for more things, such as their classmates, teachers, and family.
4. Be Consistent and Persistent
Gratitude isn’t a natural practice for many students. They come from homes where gratitude isn’t the norm. As students get older, they become increasingly ungrateful; it’s just the nature of trying to become autonomous. It’s our job to consistently model and teach gratitude. We must be persistent in helping them find ways to express and practice gratitude. Make gratitude a part of everyday by implementing gratitude activities in your weekly schedule. If they practice enough, it will become second nature, and their lives will benefit from it.
The world needs more people who are grateful and ready to go out and make a difference in the lives of others.
Teia Hoover Baker is an educator, published author, and entrepreneur. She is an innovative, devoted educator whose career has been dedicated to coordinating programs that support struggling learners. Her passion is meeting students where they are and guiding them to excel. Her main focus is always what is best for children. Teia holds a Bachelor’s in Journalism and a Master’s of Education. In her spare time, she enjoys being Lovie to her growing grandchildren.