“I’m grateful for family and friends,” was my 7 year-old son’s last gratitude journal entry at the end of the school year.
Each night before I turn on his meditation music, he writes something he is grateful for on a notebook that stays on his nightstand. We started this routine at the beginning of the school year, but by Christmas he started to skip days—and eventually, weeks.
Around spring break, he suddenly started to write entries in his gratitude journal again. Things happened during the break that inspired him and the journal was still sitting right by his bed to help him capture the moment.
He finished the school year with intermittent entries.
By not putting too much pressure on him journaling and starting with a simple approach, he was able to create a journal that he can share and reminisce about the 2nd grade.
Gratitude Journal: a book for recognizing, appreciating, and recording pleasant occurrences, blessings, and moments of authentic happiness and contentment.
Benefits of Kids Keeping a Gratitude Journal
- Journaling might bring a new and redemptive frame of reference to difficult life situations. It also helps children create meaning when they can place everyday experiences within a framework of gifts and gratefulness.
- In a study, individuals who take time to express gratitude for their partner not only feel more positive toward the other person but also feel more comfortable expressing concerns about their relationship. This same idea can be applied to children and how they learn to have healthy interactions with others.
- There is a mental health benefit; people who keep these diaries exercise more regularly and reported feeling better about their lives
Studies show that these tips will help them reap the greatest rewards from maintaining their journals:
- Don’t just go through the motions. Keep them conscious about making journaling time and also writing in the moment when something special happens.
- Go for depth over breadth. Encourage them to pick just one or two ideas to write about and help them elaborate as much as possible.
- Get personal. Ask is a specific person had something to do with what they are grateful for.
- Try subtraction, not just addition. Provide prompts that ask if there’s anything they are grateful they don’t have to go without.
- Savor surprises. Have them mention anything unexpected.
- Don’t overdo it. If they want to skip a day or a week, it’s ok. Just pick back up when they are inspired to add something to their journal
My Simplified Approach
- Keep it simple
- Encourage sharing with other people
- Provide funny prompts whenever needed
- Have a “on this day” moment every few months to revisit past entries
- Include into the night time routine
What are your children grateful for? Have them start writing it down. You’ll be surprised how many things they have to put on their lists. The best part is they will love to share their journals with others and use it to remember how they felt during the year.
Crystal Gibson is a wife and mother of two from Cleveland, Ohio whose interest in women’s empowerment comes from her personal experiences, raising her daughter and navigating corporate America for over a decade. She is passionate about simple living, mindfulness & meditation, gratitude, and raising strong daughters. Her goal is to write about these ideas to help women and girls with their journey – figuring out who they are and what they represent to the world. When she is not writing, she can be found gardening, crafting and spending time with her family.