Guiding the Gratitude Mindset!
Gratitude is a powerful mindset of abundance that unlocks the fullness of life. It acts as a lens through which to view the world – not by what we don’t have – but what we already do. In a time when consumer culture demands our constant attention to buy, click, and share, parents and teachers can play a vital role in helping children learn the skills necessary for lifelong appreciation.
The Montessori method defines gratitude as an active appreciation for the everyday elements that nourish the whole child — including their growing bodies, minds, and spirits.
Beyond the obvious benefits that gratitude offers young minds, emerging neuroscience is beginning to prove just how effective daily gratitude can be for all ages. Improved physical and psychological health, better sleep, higher self-esteem, and even longer lifespans are beginning to reveal the tangible benefits behind this powerful perspective.
By planting the seeds of gratitude today, we cultivate the kind of appreciation and awareness that fortifies each child’s mental, physical, and spiritual journey for life.
What are some ways that we, as adults, can encode gratitude into the fiber of our children’s daily lives?
1. Modeling Gratitude Through Words and Actions
The most powerful influence on a child’s capacity for gratitude is what he sees modeled at school and at home. As Montessori educators, we define “modeling” in two specific ways:
To be effective, we must challenge ourselves – as parents, educators, and adults – to focus on indirectly presenting gratitude so that our words align with our actions.
2. Slowing Down to Appreciate the Day’s Bounty
Slowing down shows, rather than tells, children that we value them, hear them, and respect them. As Dr. David Elkind explains in The Hurried Child, the ability to let the mind wander without the rigidity of a schedule or the overstimulation of technology allows for the ability to be truly present, to take stock of the day’s gifts, and to recharge the physical and emotional batteries for the next day ahead.
3. Creating Space for Regular Self-Reflection
Our Peace Shelf is a warm and inviting place where children can go to check in with themselves, count their blessings, and monitor their changing emotional states throughout the day. With a comfortable rug to sit on, a zen garden to touch and feel, and a quiet puzzle where free thinking is welcomed, children understand that having a place to ponder is crucial to the kind of contemplation that comes with gratitude.
West Side Montessori is an independent, accredited Montessori school educating children 13 months through 8th grade (preschool, kindergarten, elementary and middle school) with locations at 13587 Roachton Rd in Perrysburg, Ohio, and 7115 W. Bancroft Street in Toledo, Ohio.