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The holidays are upon us and now is a great time to remind ourselves to slow down, take time, be thankful for family and friends, and be grateful for all that we have.

Studies show that people who are grateful are significantly happier, healthier, and have lower levels of stress and depression. In addition, gratitude breeds joy, enthusiasm, interest, and determination, all great reasons to teach our children an “attitude of gratitude.”

Children are naturally ego­centric; from early on it’s clear they believe the world revolves around them. Parents tend to reinforce this idea as we attend to their every need, want and desire. And now, with the internet and technology at our fingertips, everything is faster and oftentimes instant. I see babies, kids and parents constantly engaged and wanting more, instead of appreciating and understanding what they have around them. So how can we teach our children and remind ourselves to appreciate all that we have and to be grateful? Well, the first big challenge is making gratitude an everyday experience. As the idea of gratitude can be abstract for toddlers, children, and even teenagers, it’s important for YOU to live it. Remember, you are your child’s biggest role model and they are watching you. With that being said, it’s up to you to set the example and show some gratitude.

There are countless ways to express gratitude, so why not weave some of these simple suggestions into everyday life:

  • Show appreciation by conveying you pay attention to real effort – take the time to praise your children when they clean up their toys, help with chores, and/or finish their homework without reminding them.
  • Remember to say and emphasize “please” and “thank you” as you go about your day. Whether you are thanking them, a friend, or even a stranger who lent a helping hand, saying “thank you” extends beyond manners and demonstrates appreciation.
  • Encourage volunteering and donations. Helping those less fortunate is a great way to foster generosity and show that we’re all in this together.
  • Be polite, model good manners and help those around you, reinforcing the importance of kindness.
  • Be aware and engaged, be mindful of your words and tone; use kind words and appreciate your family.
  • Life gets busy and days are long, but remember to make room for gratitude. Gratitude not only breeds good manners, kindness and generosity, but it also fosters empathy and other life skills. Without a doubt, instilling grateful feelings in all of us will benefit everyone now and later in life.

And now it’s time to have a wonderful Thanksgiving, enjoy your family and friends, make memories and show some gratitude – it might just be contagious!

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