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Teaching Children about Gratitude

Posted on November 20, 2020 in: General News

Teaching Children about Gratitude

How Grateful We are for You! 

As we look to Thanksgiving and this time of expressing gratitude, the staff and administration of Sacred Heart Villa want to express our gratitude for all the ways the families and friends of The Villa have supported us.  Though times have been challenging to say the least, we have been so blessed by the goodness of others.   

Let us start with our parents and students. We appreciate the confidence you placed in us to send your child(ren) back to school during this pandemic. You have worked with the staff to explain the necessity of 20 second handwashing, staying socially distant, wearing masks and other requirements we have had to copy with.  We especially value that the parents are cooperating to keep their child(ren) home from school if they have a cough or runny nose.  

We also want to acknowledge the financial support we have received in the past months. Through donations from grants, foundations, PPE loans, fundraisers like our Virtual Trivia and community partnerships like Dining with Donors, The Villa has been able to meet our day-to-day financial needs. We are fully aware that times are tough for everyone. When we receive financial and in-kind donations, we are so grateful. We thank God for the generosity we have received.  

At The Villa, the staff is trying to focus on the good things which surround us so we can be resilient and model gratitude to our students. Recently, United 4 Children shared a thought-provoking article with the staff. It speaks of the importance of emulating gratitude. Please take a few minutes to read this portion of the article. 

In this era of instant gratification, teaching gratitude is SO important. Studies have shown that grateful children tend to be happier, more engaged with hobbies and schoolwork, have better relationships, and report greater satisfaction in general. Instilling gratitude in young children can literally help them grow up to be happier people. How do we teach such an abstract concept? 

Gratitude is so much more than the simple act of saying thanks. It requires children to use a set of complex social-emotional skills, including perspective taking and emotional intelligence. Gratitude involves much more than simply learning how to say thanks.  

Gratitude has 4 parts: 

Noticing: What we NOTICE in our lives for which we can be grateful.  

Thinking: How we THINK about why we have been given those things.  

Feeling: How we FEEL about the things we have been given.  

Doing: What we DO to express appreciation in return.  

While saying thanks is a way to show gratitude, it is important that children learn all 4 of the components of gratitude. We tend to focus on what we see as we work with children because it is an outward expression. But it's even more important to teach the deeper parts of gratitude by helping children think about the things they are grateful for and recognize the thoughts and feelings tied to what makes them grateful. So rather than focus on the outward expression of gratitude, we must teach children to think deeply by asking NOTICE-THINK-FEEL-DO questions. 

NOTICE: What have you been given or what do you already have in your life that you are grateful for? Is it only the material thing that you are grateful or is it the action that was behind the gift - such as someone was thinking of you or cared about you?

THINK: Why do you think you recieved this gift? Do you think you earned this gift because of something you did yourself? Did the giver have to give you this gift? Do you think you owe the giver something in return?

FEEL: Does it make you happy to get this gift? What does that feel like inside? What about the gift makes you feel happy? These questions help the child connect these positive feelings to the gifts they receive in their lives. 

DO: Is there a way you want to show how you feel about this gift? Does the feeling you have about this gift make you want to share that feeling by giving something to someone else? Prompting children to act on these feelings and pay it forward helps them connect their experiences and actions in the world.

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