The Gratitude Attitude – A Parents Guide

The gratitude attitude is about switching from ‘poor me’ to ‘lucky me’ – not living in ‘victim’ mode (such as life’s not fair, this bad thing happened) it’s moving your thinking to how much I do have, and how lucky I am. I teach kids and teens that I coach about gratitude and all the things that can be on your gratitude list:

  1. Material thing like houses, cars, toys, bikes or
  2. Experiences: holidays, parties, Christmas,  birthdays, family days out, weekends away
  3. People who love or care about us.

The list can literally go on and on. If you can learn how to switch your thinking to the gratitude attitude it changes your outlook. It lifts you up when you’re down. It’s a great one for our kids, who on the whole, get so much, and we wonder if they will ever appreciate it.

A lot of us talk about being more grateful for what we have; we hear a sad story, or hear something devastating on the news, (and lets face it there is no shortage of those,) and we sometimes make noises about how lucky we are…

It’s easy to say ‘Oh I’m so lucky, I’m so grateful’ and then in the next breath, shout at your child who is just pushing all your buttons at the wrong time. I’m not perfect either, (let’s get that one out there early on) I have 3 young children ranging from 3 to 9 years and boy oh boy,  it can be hard to feel grateful when you feel like a personal slave/ housekeeper/taxi service/ cook to name but a few of the hats I wear.

But seriously, how do we put this gratefulness into practice, how do we feel grateful for our lives when we are just so busy! When on one hand we are trying to keep all the balls in the air and on the other hand, we know things could be so much worse.

Here are top tips to getting and keeping a gratitude attitude:

  1. Alive: Give yourself a moment each morning when you wake up (even if you are woken by a child and it’s WAY too early), to breath in and out and be grateful for your body, your heart is pulsing and you are alive.
  2. Children: As you see your children, be grateful for each of them, that they are alive and hopefully well, and for the love that you get from them… think of all that love you get from your kids, they can show it in different ways. Give them a hug and /or a kiss (If they’ll let you).
  3. Love: I believe love is the answer to most problems (well love and communication) – the gratitude attitude is about having loving thoughts and taking loving actions – it totally changes our attitude. Make sure you start the day by telling your kids that you love them and, even if you have sulky teenagers and you don’t hear it back… know and trust that they’ll come back to you again, after those tough teenage years. Try to spend more one to one time with the child you have most problems with… it never does any harm.
  4. Losing the head: (The next 3 point are about losing your temper, so please feel free to skip them if this doesn’t apply to you – by the way you must be a Zen like creature or your kids have left home, either way keep up the good work!) So now even if you end up losing your head in the morning, or any time during the day,  you’ve at least started out well. You are in a better place in your head – and we know kids copy our mood, they are lead by us, their parents/guardians. You can try to listen to them, or talk to them from a place of love instead of a place of pure frustration or anger. Notice how I said ‘listen’ before ‘talk’…
  5. Sargent Major: When I lose my head in the mornings, I end up shouting at the kids like a Sergeant Major, I don’t want to listen, I just want them to do, do, do….. do the thing they are supposed to do (there is a long list: put your dishes in the sink, brush your teeth, wash your face, brush your hair, put your shoes on etc) and also to stop fighting / bickering / complaining… whatever the case may be. I know if I can take a breath and calm myself down and not let my blood boil – 2 things happen, 1. My kids don’t end up shouting at each other because they are subconsciously modelling my behaviour, and 2. I am able to listen and ask questions, staying logical and rational (and understanding there is person who feels hard done by, underneath the disobedient kid that is pushing my buttons). This was a new concept for me, I’m still working on being person orientated instead of task orientated as a parent.
  6. Plan  Sometimes what works for us to talk it through the night before, and try to have a new plan (Me: ‘You have to speed up and do your ‘jobs’ quicker in the morning, versus Child: ‘Mammy when I get distracted you start to shout at me and it upsets me’… so we try to figure it out when we’re calm and rational, and work towards our plan. Then in the morning instead of screaming I just say – ‘Remember the plan we had, lets try to stick to it!’
  7. Here is one of my gratitude practices: Every morning I think of three different moments in my life I’m grateful for (I’m taking this from Tony Robbins Priming exercise)  its very powerful, it reminds you of all the good things and good times you’ve had in your life, and it reminds you even though relationships may not be perfect (partners, parents, children, siblings, friends etc) you have a deep gratitude inside you, and love for that person.
  8. Life is not perfect: Have a think about how far you’ve come since the days when you expected the world to just be perfect and for everything to fall at your feet? (Did you ever think this? I know I did!) Now you hopefully know and accept that life is not perfect, things don’t always go to plan, and life can be downright hard and unfair sometimes. Think about the journey of realizing this… I think maybe it’s somewhere between childhood and adulthood that it hits you – somewhere in those tough teenage years, or maybe its earlier it depends on the person and circumstances!
  9. Smell the roses: Notice the little things and don’t forget to smell the roses along the way. Nature is all around us and its so easy to walk past some beautiful blooming flowers, without so much as a glance at them. When I’m being mindful and grateful, I openly talk to my kids about the flowers, the sky, the sea, the trees, the colours in nature, and all the beauty around us. It’s so easy to miss if you’re in your head thinking or worrying about stuff.
  10. Kids: I know I’ve mentioned this before but it’s a great idea to get the kids into a daily practice of gratitude. Here are a few of my favourites:
  • A. Get them to list the top 3 things they are grateful for that day.
  • B. Get them to close their eyes (or leave them open if they’re too young) and think of the love they have in their lives (you can list some people to get them started) and be grateful for it.
  • When they are talking about others that are less fortunate remind them to feel grateful how lucky they are for their lives.. or if they are complaining about someone being mean to them, (this works well if its a once off) remind them that person is usually a good kid, / nice person so they must be just having a bad day.
  • Get them to write their gratitude list and allow them hang it up somewhere they can see it, even the inside of their wardrobe.

As always, I write these articles because I hope it helps some of you. I know it helps me too, as its a reminder of whats important and not to sweat the small stuff.

If you’d like to learn more about what we do at the Confidence Clinic or read about our Summer Camps please click here it will bring you to our website. We are including gratitude on our kids camps – in 5 locations.

Thanks as always for reading, sharing, liking, and generally helping to spread the word – I am truly grateful! The Confidence Clinics Mission is to help as many children and teens to live happier more confident lives.

Caoimhe xx

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