Written by Sabah Hadi, a mum, writer and learning enthusiast. She is the creator of the The 11+ Journal, available on Amazon. It is a book for children, aged 6 to 12, to help children develop all-round personalities and grow up with the powers of gratitude, expression and self-regulation. She is also founder of The 11 plus Journey, an educational community.
Grateful students are motivated, engaged, and successful in school. According to the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley studies show that gratitude among youth suggest that it fosters more positive emotions and better attitudes toward school. Focusing on what brings us joy, as most of us know, leads us to be happy, pro-active, leaving us with an enthusiasm to do well and to do more.
Nurturing a child’s learning and growth mindset is important. Just as important is cultivating a grateful attitude towards life. No matter which school a child goes to or wants to go, an important part of a child’s growing up years is if he is happy and enjoys what he is doing. There is a lot you, as an adult in this little human’s life, can do to nurture an environment where gratitude for the small wins and encouragement for the little gains is centre-stage.
Encourage and praise work, encourage your child to do the same
Don’t simply say- You are a smart cookie. It is a lame line anyway. Praise your child’s work, That took a long time and a lot of work, Wow! You have put in so much time and work on your drawing. I love it! Let your child realise his achievement too and encourage him to be grateful. I learnt the spelling of arduous today and I also know what it means. This will not just develop a child’s power to be grateful but also trigger a love of learning new words.
Academics, loving family, delicious food- gratitude for all the good things in life
It is isn’t just gratitude for academic achievements or the taking, passing and excelling in selective entrance tests that is important but rather gratefulness for the simple things in life. A loving family environment is a thing to be grateful for, good health after a nasty cold or bout of ill-health is another aspect that demands our thankfulness. The joy that the sparkling lights lit up the street calls for us to show our appreciation.
Start early and go back to past struggles and eventual successes- do this early and do this often
Don’t wait until your child has to learn Algebra, although it applies to all stages of life. Start this exercise early, from when a child is learning to stand up and then walk. Start with reading picture books with your child and explore worlds he has never seen, people he has never met and feelings he may not have experienced and introduce him to the wonders of the world, the wonders of learning new things, the wonder of repetition and boredom.
Remember a time when you struggled to learn how to bike without the support wheels. Wasn’t that an exciting thing to learn? Talk about it, write it down, discuss how you mastered the skill and how wonderful you felt. It is all part of being grateful and exhibiting that feeling instead of pushing it in a corner as if it doesn’t matter.
Set the tone, give your child the tools they need
Set the environment where judgements are few, gratitude is a joy, encouragement is aplenty, and the child has a secure feeling where he knows that he can try doing something he finds difficult knowing that he can try and make mistakes until he can get it. A journal I wrote- The 11+ Journal filled with prompts, pages where children can write down how they feel, the things that they are grateful for, that day, a page where they can document a task they find difficult, is a great way to do this. You can do this in any journal or make your own. It encourages a child to express what he finds difficult and allows him to write it down. When we write down something, our brains understand it better. Studies have shown that it makes your mind more efficient by helping you focus on the truly important stuff. It helps clear your mind, helps you keep motivated and process your emotions. Writing things down enables a higher level of thinking, and therefore, more focused action. Writing things down develops your sense of gratitude adding to the experience.