I’ve been practising gratitude for about 30 years. I started when I was about 15 and going through a rough time at school. No matter what happened at school that day, before bed I’d think about something I was thankful for. I now use this bedtime ritual with my kids.
Each night for our bedtime ritual we talk about 3 things
- What their favourite part of their day was. This can be anything from getting recognition in class to hearing a funny joke they liked
- We then talk about what their least favourite part of the day was. This is often when we find out what’s going on for them e.g. that one of the kids has got someone who is being mean to them at school. We also share our least favourite part of our own days. It’s important for kids to realise that we also have problems at work. Sharing these and how we overcome them helps our kids to also understand how they can overcome their own problems in life and the schoolyard
- Finally, we talk about what we are thankful for that day. This is particularly important on the days where one of us has had a really rough one. These are often the days where our kids don’t want to talk about what they thankful for or say “nothing” as their answer. That’s when it’s the most important to talk about gratitude and finding something they are grateful for. On these days, often we focus on a home cooked meal or that we have shelter or that the kids have a soft toy to cuddle
The other benefit of talking about our favourite, least favourite and thankful thing for the day is that it builds some routine and predictability into the kids’ schedule.
They know that this means it’s time for bed, as it’s a daily part of our bedtime ritual. Often when we’re talking about our favourites I’ve noticed the kids are yawning. It’s like Pavlov’s dogs – they know the trigger of discussing favourites means that the next thing to come is sleep.
I may not be with my kids for several hours a day during the work week, but where possible I do try to put my kids in bed and enjoy these 10 or so minutes with them. And often it’s when I find out what’s really going on for them.
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