We have so much to be thankful for at BCD. Some bulldogs share in this video what they are thankful for.
Here are some additional thoughts on gratitude from Kath Courter, Preschool Head.
Fostering an Attitude of Gratitude
Thanksgiving reminds me to take stock of the things in my life for which I am most grateful. Of course I am thankful for my family and friends and that I am in good health; I also am thankful that my dishwasher works, that my husband makes me a cup of coffee each morning as I’m getting ready for work, and that I landed in Boulder with a job that I LOVE to come to each and every day.
Growing up, my mother was relentless in her drive to instill in me a sense of appreciation. Sometimes it was conveyed through threats that I should stop complaining and eat my dinner because “there are people in the world who are starving!” But mostly it was through our household policy that you always say thank you – with my mother emphasizing “say it like you mean it!” As a part of my mother’s rules for instilling appreciation, when I received a gift I could not use it, eat it, spend it, play with it, or wear it until I had written a thank you note. I hated this as a child… and now – looking back – I’m thankful. My mother instilled in me an attitude of gratitude that I am now trying to pass on to my son.
Teaching gratitude and appreciation is not as easy as I thought it would be… and I find myself using some of the same strategies that I grew up with: Think about people who have to walk three miles to get fresh water!” I struggle with helping him to learn how to appreciate what he has without focusing on what he wishes he had. In a search for inspiration, I came across an article by Andrea Reiser in the Huffington Post that focuses on tips for instilling true gratitude in kids. Below are some of my take-a-ways from her tips.
Be a grateful parent.
This tip makes me think about how important it is to tell the people in our lives how much we appreciate them. I do this regularly with my colleagues and friends. However, I sometimes forget to do this with my son. I have made it a goal to tell him something every week that focuses on why I am grateful for having him in my life. I try to phrase the things to say in a way that will help him to build his sense of internal confidence and competence. For example, “I am so thankful that you took the time to pick up around our neighborhood (his new past-time is to ride around our cul-de-sac on his bike, trash bags hanging off of his handle bars, picking up little scraps of stuff). It must make you feel good inside to be such a good neighbor. I know that other people appreciate you too.”
Resist the urge to shower your child with too much "stuff."
My son does not ask for much and we really do strive to limit how much we give him. However, I admit that this is difficult for me because at my core, I like to please. I often feel a sense of guilt if I say no just because I want to hold the line and I feel guilty if I cave and give into his requests. I find that thinking about his requests in terms of wants verses needs helps me to better balance my stance in this area.
Keep thank-you notes on hand and say thank you sincerely and often.
The thank you rules that I hated as a child are now a staple in my house. I keep thank you notes on hand and I insist that he write a handwritten note of thanks whenever he receives a gift. I also have him occasionally write notes of thanks “just because.” I’ve been trying to do this too and it feels great to hear back from folks on the receiving end about how receiving an unexpected note made their day. In addition, I try to model gratitude. My hope is that if he sees me expressing gratitude that he will do the same.
Find the silver lining.
This is a strategy that I use at work all the time and now I am trying to incorporate it into my parenting. I have to admit that this is concept is way easier to talk about with an adult than it is with a seven year old… That said, I realize that it is important for me to teach my son to be resilient and focus on the positives. When I take the time to find the silver lining, I can normally find a positive spin for even the most difficult situation.
Taking time to show appreciation grants perspective and age adds wisdom. Each year I become more and more thankful for the life I live, the people who surround me, and the experiences and people that have helped to shape my life. I encourage you to use this Thanksgiving to say thank you to those who have influenced you. An attitude of gratitude feels good.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving!