Giving Thanks: a gratitude journal for children, by Michelle Statton-Dickie
Gratitude. Doesn’t it seem like this should be such a natural and easy thing for us to do? Well, if you are like most people I have talked to including myself, it is not so easy. For many it becomes just another thing to do, or an activity that seems to default into something robotic and automatic. Simply put, people often find themselves saying the same thing everyday, or just rushing and getting it done so they can check off another box at the end of the day. The problem is, with no emotion, the practice of gratitude becomes flat, and even ineffective. I know mine was. So, I began to change my gratitude practice to get out of the funk and into inspiration. I tried to focus on the small things, taking pleasure in little acts or observations in the day. I also began to ask my children what they were grateful for. Of course they don’t have the same problems we “older’ people can have. They would just say the most beautiful, simple things each day. Often their responses were so remarkable that I would write them down in my own journal so I could remember them forever. One day, it struck me. Wouldn’t it be great to have a journal for my children so they could write down all these wonderful things they are saying each night about what they are grateful for? This sparked the idea of writing the journal Giving Thanks. I knew I wanted a journal that had a few key components. Firstly, it needed to have a flexible date. We are not perfect, especially when developing a new habit. I wanted it to be a positive experience so that if you miss a day, no problem, keep going and you don’t end up with a bunch of blank pages to remind you that you didn’t do it. Secondly, I wanted a place for people to be able to draw, colour, or add pictures. Get creative. Often when we get more creative, more emotion follows, and usually more meaning. Finally, I wanted to focus on the little things. To get people thinking about all the amazing things they have to be thankful for. This little project started out as a journal to keep track of all the wonderful things my children would say around gratitude, but it has transformed into a mission and keep sake. Each journal is like a window into their thoughts and feeling at different stages of their life. I am so excited to be able to read these now and in the future. The more research I did on gratitude, the more I realized how essential it is in everyone’s life; especially children. Kids today undergo more stress than ever before. That can lead to anxiety, loss of confidence, and physical and emotional problems. By teaching our kids how to focus on the positive in their reactions, choices and inter-actions, we can help them become more confident, happier and healthier. The Gratitude Journal gives kids a tool they need to build an attitude of gratitude in their daily life. The results…better grades, improved communication, stronger coping skills and a healthier, happier outlook on life. It is my mission to help as many children as possible establish a habit of gratitude and to aid in creating deeper connections within the family.