We all know how easy it is to get caught up in things that make you feel frustrated, angry, or disappointed, and before you know it, you may reach the end of your day with those feelings still unresolved. Even though your kids may not have the same stresses or daily responsibilities that you do, they can still end their day with feelings of frustration or disappointment.
Rather than ending the day on a discouraging note, try redirecting your and your child’s attention to positive thoughts. By reflecting on positive things that happened in the day – and considering what caused them – you shift your mindset to the sources of goodness in your life. This practice has been shown to increase happiness, reduce stress or anxiety, and improve sleep quality.
Three Good Things is an evidence-based strategy where, at the end of the day, you reflect on or write down the things that went well. The items can be an everyday event like seeing a friend up to achieving an important milestone. Used with children, this practice can be part of any bedtime routine or even a dinner conversation. Simply look back on the day to notice three positive things that happened or made them feel happy, smile, or laugh. Kids can talk about, draw, or journal the things that come to mind.
For older kids (and adults!), take five or ten minutes to write down three positive experiences or things that went well and then explain why they went well. Ask kids to describe how the experience made them feel at the time. If you need help starting the conversation, try:
- What good things happened today?
- What act of kindness did you give or receive today?
- What brought a smile to your face today?
- How did you make meaningful use of your time today?
- What support did you receive from another person today?
As you and your kids continue the Three Good Things practice, you can start practicing gratitude throughout the day. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Say thank you. It can be that simple! Model saying “please” and “thank you” to others in front of your children. They will start to model that behavior and use the phrases themselves.
- Write thank you notes. Ask your child for a person or a few people they are grateful for. Then, help them write a thank you note to their person saying why they are grateful for them. Use this Gratitude Card Set to get started!
- Fill a gratitude jar. As a family, start filling a jar with people, places, or things each person is grateful for. Get the jar out at dinner time and have each person contribute to the jar. When the jar is full, read the answers out loud as a family and reflect on all you are grateful for.
- Help someone in need. If your family knows someone who could use an extra hand, extend some support to them. This could be preparing a meal, taking care of their yard, asking them to get together, or offering kind, supporting words. Even small gestures can go a long way in supporting someone!
Whether you’re a child or an adult, you will find that adding gratitude and positivity practices each day gets easier with time and can make a real difference in how you feel. You and your family will notice, remember, and cherish the good things in your life.
Ready for More? You may also like:
Fill Your Plate Printable Placemat
Mindset Matters: Building Growth Mindsets in Kids
Positive Self-Talk Coloring Pages