As we find ourselves and our children/students adapting to a new version of what school looks like, whether it’s ‘online learning’ or ‘in building learning’, we may all be experiencing challenging circumstances which can trigger some tough emotions like: anger, sadness, frustration, anxious or disappointment.
Is there an antidote to help you and your children/students bounce back from these challenges and emotions? YES!
It’s called GRATITUDE.
Feeling and expressing gratitude not only boosts emotional and mental well-being, but also boosts your immune system and your happiness.
How do you teach children the skill of gratitude?
Below are 3 grateful activities that are a fun way to practice and express gratitude.
1. VISUAL DISPLAY OF GRATITUDE
Create a tree, a banner, a board or a collage as a display to encourage children to focus on the people, experiences and things in their life that make them feel grateful and appreciative. Every day have them reflect and write one aspect of their life they are grateful for. By adding their paper to the display they deepen relationships and become more connected to the people around them.
Journaling creates a practice of connecting to gratitude and helps with their writing skills. Daily entries in their own private journal about the people, events and things they are grateful for, helps them with emotional resilience and self-esteem. For those who may say, like my son, ‘I can’t think of anything’, here are some helpful hints:
What did you do today that was fun?
What makes you happy?
What do you look forward to when you wake up?
Who or what makes you smile?
What did you do today that made you feel brave?
What made you proud today?
Who was kind to you today?
What is your favourite place to visit?
3. CREATE A JAR OF JOY
A Jar of Joy is a fun, creative way to help children practice gratitude. Begin by providing a jar large enough to hold daily gratitude notes. Then personalize the jar with decorations using ribbons, stickers, pompoms, sparkles, markers etc
After decorating the jar, it’s time to add the ’gratitudes’ they have written about people, places or things. They can also add photos or cut out images from magazines that depict their gratitudes. Whenever they are having a challenging moment where they need a joyful lift encourage them to take a gratitude from their jar and have a brief discussion about it.
Being reminded to focus on what they enjoy and are grateful for, will not only shift their mood and mind to a happier state, but also yours.
Gratitude is transformational! Choosing to focus on what you are grateful for transforms how you feel about yourself, others and your life!
Until next time…
1 Apr 2020
My Grandpa’s Secret
My grandpa died a few months ago of natural causes. He was 102… ONE HUNDRED AND TWO.
Isn’t that amazing? I think he had a secret to his longevity.
My grandpa always told me something I thought was very special which I often remind myself of: “If you can’t clown around in the world, you will never get around.”
You could take everything personally, focus on the negative, feel down and discouraged or you could adopt some of my grandpa’s positivity and choose to clown around. Imagine what would happen if you added humour to your days? What if you playedmore? Wouldn’t that be fun? That’s my grandpa’s secret. He chose humour.
I know it’s not always easy…
“But Sara, what if certain things just feel hard?” I hear you.
The truth is … it’s sometimes hard for all of us. My grandpa’s life wasn’t all fun and games. He struggled at times and in more ways than most—I bet it wasn’t easy for him to find humour every day. He was blind by the time he was a teenager and when the other kids learned how to drive, he longed for the day that never came. I saw his struggle first hand when he’d whisper in my ear his simple wish for sight.
When my grandpa was growing up, if you were blind, you were sent to boarding school. It could have felt terrible for him to live away from his friends and family, but he found a loved one there… my grandma. She was also blind.
He tuned pianos for a living because what he lacked in sight he made up for in sound and together, they raised three children with bells on their shoes—a little trick to keep track of their footsteps around the house. Isn’t that fun?!
I think the moral of this story is that with humour, you build resilience. Of course, there will be difficult times, but it’s important to always search for joy, silver linings, and silliness in times that feel hard. I think laughter is healing and humour goes a long way to helping you move through challenging circumstances and tough emotions.
How to add humour to your day
My fondest memories of my grandpa are filled with laughter. Joking together! I want to thank him a thousand times over for his wise words, but all I can do is share them with you.
It’s a childlike quality that we can carry into adulthood. I think of my son sometimes when I need a reminder. When our babies are born, we do everything we can to make them laugh. Now, he laughs at the oddest jokes that he thinks are really funny. It makes me happy to see him so happy and we snowball from there. Don’t you think that’s proof enough of the positive impact humour has on our wellbeing? I sure do!
Here’s a few ways to find your ‘inner clown’ even if you think it’s silly:
Make funny faces in the mirror – sounds weird but it works.
Sing really loud using a funny voice.
Watch a funny movie and laugh until your face feels like it’s
Dance like no one is watching.
Play dress up with your kids or friends.
Laughter and humour will give you the space to cope with a situation with a more relaxed view and help give you a different perspective so you can bounce back with more ease.