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Helping Children to Develop Gratitude

You have probably heard the saying ‘children are like sponges’ …. well indeed they are! 

 

 

As parents we quickly learn that our reactions, words and attitudes are mirrored by our children.  In fact, children form views of their internal and external world which are largely based on experiences they are given in the early years.  Psychologists often refer to these as core beliefs and values.

Attitudes are similarly developed through the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that have been modelled.  In the long term, attitudes will influence children’s choices as they go out into the world.

As such, being grateful is not only an attitude that can be assimilated from a young age but with sufficient repetitive experiences, can become entrenched in the child’s belief system and values.

But why is it important for children to develop gratitude?

Research shows that individuals whom have a well developed sense of gratitude, experience more life satisfaction, greater levels of optimism, higher self-esteem, have more empathy and increased psychological resilience.  This means that in the face of adversity and challenges, they are more likely to bounce back quicker.

Providing opportunities for children to experience gratitude is therefore an investment in their long term psychological wellbeing!  Developing a true sense of gratitude however, is more than just learning to say thank you ..but is instead cultivated through direct involvement that allows children to truly experience what gratitude is about. 

Ideas that may help to prepare children to develop gratitude

  1. Role model it.  Your actions, words and behaviours will be the most powerful roadmap a child will have as they go out into the world.  So choose to behave in ways that demonstrate what gratitude is about.
  2. Take a moment each day to be grateful for 5 things (people, objects, friendships, kindness, health, love) that you have in your life and share them with your child. For younger children, help them to draw a picture of something that happened in their day which they are grateful for.
  3. Play games that increase awareness of gratitude: write secret notes to each other expressing something you are grateful for and place them under the pillow, or inside the lunchbox. Encourage them to do the same to you and to others (eg. friends, grandparents, siblings). For younger kids, draw pictures to each other.
  4. Create a gratitude jar: once a day, write down on a piece of paper something that you are grateful for and place it in the jar.  Do this each day of the year and on Dec 31, open the jar and read them out.
  5. Limit how much you give them: with today’s throwaway society, it is easy for our children to be given too much. Help them to save for something special instead.
  6. Expose children to opportunities to feel firsthand the joy of being grateful:  help them volunteer to help others, engage in random acts of kindness (do something nice for someone without expecting anything in return (smile, hugs, make a card, draw a picture, pick a small flower)
  7. Involve them in tasks that include some preparation, such as meals or tidying up so they understand the effort that is involved.  Make time to reflect on this effort at the end.
  8. When receiving a gift, reflect with them on the effort the person giving it must have gone through to find it, make it or buy it, wrap it and give it. 
  9. Observe mindfully.  Sit with your child in the garden and watch the ants!  Talk about their actions in seeking and finding food, comment on how they work together to help each other. Do this with other things in the environment to create a sense of gratitude for nature.

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Below is the attachment link for the 30 Day of Gratitute Calander. You can print one off for you and your child or children to complete together!

30-Days-of-Gratitude.pdf

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DOG WITH A BLOG: Benji's Birthday Week Three

We are still celebrating my birthday month here at Drop of Life! My human organised more cool things for me this week:

My Human threw a party for me at work!! Even got some yummy treats. 

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My Human organised a spa treatment with my Jayne from Aussie Pooch Mobile who is so sweet with me, the body massage is THE BEST!

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If any humans want to pamper their pooch, Jayne is the best in the business. You can call Aussie Pooch Mobile on 1300 369 369 to make a booking with Jayne.

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All that pampering and partying made me super sleepy, so I spent the rest of my day relaxing.

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Even though its my birthday, giving makes me a lot happier than receiving For the rest of the month there will be a bucket of tennis balls in the clinic. Feel free to take one for your furry friend to brighten their day!

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My brithday month isnt over yet! Make sure you tune into next weeks Dog with a Blog to see how we wrap up my birthday celebrations.

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BENJI

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My human has organised so many things this week to help me celebrate my birthday month:

 

My Human planned a play date with my best  friends Campbell (the big bog) and Roxy (I think I love her) and we went and played in the park together! Campbell never has much to do with me but I know the big guy loves me

 

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Benji and Roxy

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Campell, Roxy and Benji 

 

My Human took the big dogs and I to the beach on the weekend and we ran and played in the water so much fun. It’s my favourite place in the world to go!

 

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My Human tells me that she has more exiciting things planned throughout this month to celebrate my birthday. Make sure you read next weeks Dog with a Blog to find out more!

 

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BENJI

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DOG WITH A BLOG: JAN IS MY BIRTHDAY MONTH!!!

It’s my birthday this month!! Woof Woof

I turn 36, or in human years 5! Super excited and my human tells me I can celebrate alllll month long, with lots of things happening at the clinic so look out for it!

My Human went away for Christmas which makes me sad, but I got to stay with Poppy who spoils me and gives me all sorts of yummy food – some  I’m not allowed to have!  Which meant I got to see my vet at 2:00am, poppy was worried because I was feeling very unwell and was making a mess everywhere. It’s so scary to go to the Vet with all those smells and that strange environment, I get very anxious and scared.

My human has taught me that focusing on one thing at a time can make me feel better. So I looked at an ant walking across the floor, and focused really really hard on all the zigging and zagging that the little fella was doing. Before long I forgot where I was and didn’t feel so bad. Thanks mum, great advice!

My human is home now and I am back to normal and looking forward to what will come up this month WOOF WOOF – I hope everyone enjoyed Christmas and I can’t wait to see some of you this year. 

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  BENJI

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Don’t Panic!

I was very fortunate to attend a psychotherapy conference in the USA before Xmas and was so impressed with a talk by Dr David Burns entitled "When Panic Attacks". Dr Burns has been working with anxiety and depression for many years and has developed extremely effective treatments for anxiety disorders, including panic.

The talk got me thinking about panic attacks… Panic attacks are extremely common with estimates revealing that between 2-4% of the Australian population suffer from panic disorders with recurring panic attacks, with panic being almost twice as common among women than men. Panic attacks can be extremely frightening for sufferers, with many people worrying that they are having a heart attack, are losing control or even going crazy. After experiencing their first panic attack, people can worry about having further panic attacks which can then lead to panic disorder. It can become a debilitating and isolating condition as people can withdraw from situations and activities that they enjoy in an effort to avoid having another panic attack

A panic attack is described by the DSM-V as an "abrupt surge of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches a peak within a few minutes” and during which people can experience a pounding heart, trembling or shaking, breathlessness, nausea or a fear of dying, among a number of other symptoms. This sudden increase in anxiety can occur from a calm state or an anxious state. 

So… what can be done? There are some very effective treatments for panic disorder, so don’t despair! Below is a brief summary of the treatment options:  

  1. Information on panic and how it arises
  2. Changing the way you think about panic, reframing your thoughts and learning about breathing and relaxation strategies
  3. Gradually exposing yourself to the way that anxiety manifests in your body; and
  4. Confronting situations that trigger anxiety, once you have learned coping and relaxation strategies

                                                                                            

Essentially, anxious thinking is based on unhelpful and inaccurate thoughts that can be challenged with therapy. As Dr Burns concisely put it, you feel the way you think, and you can CHANGE the way you FEEL!

If you would like help with recurring panic attacks or anxiety, book an appointment with Claudine or another psychologist at the Drop Of Life! 

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