From Our Counselor : Gratitude

From our Counselor, Robin Bates:  Hello families! I had a wonderful time last month in the classrooms with your amazing children while focusing on our self-narratives. We read stories, created art, wrote letters to ourselves and had great discussions related to changing our narratives to build on our strengths.  

This month it seems only natural to focus on gratitude.  Over the years in my profession and personally, gratitude has been one of the most powerful tools I’ve experienced.  For example, it’s not hard to slip into a feeling of envy when we’re browsing through our social media outlets. Many children buy into others’ social media narratives and can suffer a dip in their self-esteem as they look at pictures of their peers’ “perfect worlds”.  Gratitude is a wonderful antidote for envy and other difficult feelings that we often struggle to talk about. There is research that suggests practicing gratitude improves our overall physical health, sleep, mood, sense of well-being and relationships. It is fascinating to learn about how powerful a simple concept can be on every aspect of our lives.  

In the classrooms, we will focus on gratitude for our strengths and how they contribute to our communities.  We will practice growth mindset activities to identify these strengths.  Your children may talk about the story we read and discussed, or the leaves we create or the gratitude writing we did.  

I truly believe there’s no better way to teach gratitude to our children than to practice it ourselves.  Examples could include creating thank you notes together, thanking at least one person every day, creating a daily gratitude list, keeping a gratitude journal or experimenting with simple mindfulness exercises (for example, taking a few moments to cultivate gratitude for a job well done, a meal well-cooked, or for our support of one another after a difficult time).

Last year for Thanksgiving, my family decided to create a “Gratitude Wishing Tree”, and we wrote on paper leaves and taped them to a little paper tree.  On the leaves, we wrote words describing things we hope to have gratitude for - those parts of our identity that we struggle with. It was a powerful way to create a shift in our thinking about our perceived flaws. I realized that my flaws were not weaknesses, but opportunities for strength.

My gratitude wish for all of you is to recognize your own unique strengths and the value in all of the time and effort you put into your children and families.  Thank you for sharing them with us!

Robin Bates

A wonderful quote from Mister Rogers:  "As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has--or ever will have--something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression."    ~From The World According to Mister Rogers (Kindle Locations 463-465).

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