By Deanna Hurn, Founder and Executive Director of Miracle Math Coaching
What if your Thanksgiving turkey (or whichever main course you’re serving) had super powers? What if it made your child happier, healthier and smarter? What if that effect on your child lasted a lifetime?
Cool thought, but no matter how moist and perfectly seasoned the bird, it’s not a super hero.
However, the very reason we celebrate Thanksgiving has the magic to boost your children’s well-being, improve their health and increase their cognitive ability. It’s all about gratitude.
Want your children to laugh more, get sick less and more easily master fractions? Introduce practices that teach them to be thankful, not just on Thanksgiving, but all year long.
HeartMath Institute – a nonprofit research and education organization – conducted a study that found gratitude aligns the rhythms of the brain with the rhythms of the heart. Think of it like this: Your brain is bopping to a Bob Marley beat and your heart is waltzing to a Brahms concerto.
When you feel gratitude, these two dancers turn to each other and start line dancing to Billy Ray Cyrus.
Okay, that was corny. But researchers can scientifically measure the point at which the brain and the heart are “dancing in harmony.” This alignment causes the body’s systems to “function more efficiently, generating greater balance of emotions and increased mental clarity and brain function.”
In addition, U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center conducted research that found: 1) grateful young adolescents were more satisfied with their school and community, and 2) grateful teenagers were more engaged in schoolwork and hobbies.
During the holiday, fostering gratitude is easy. Just reminding your children of why they should be thankful is a natural conversation to have when it’s Thanksgiving.
Andrea Reiser, a “Happiness Coach,” writer and mother of four boys, offers the following five ways of encouraging gratitude in children (from her Huffington Post blog):
- Name your blessings.
Have a moment of thanks each day when everyone shares something they’re thankful for. Whether the list includes a favorite toy, a particularly good piano lesson or a birthday card from Nana, this daily tradition can help develop a positive frame of mind.
- Be a grateful parent.
What an invaluable exercise it is to tell our kids why we’re grateful to have them! It goes without saying that we love our kids, and that we’re thankful beyond words for their love, their smiles, their hugs and so much more. When we tell them what makes them special to us, their self-esteem is boosted for the right reasons…Plus, our example shows them that gratitude extends well beyond material things.
- Encourage them to give back.
The old saying “it’s better to give than to receive” has stuck around for a reason. It really does feel great to help someone else out. Depending on their ages, kids can rake leaves for an elderly neighbor, say, or volunteer at a nursing home a few hours a week. You might even make service a family activity. When kids give their time and energy to help others, they’re less likely to take things like health, home and family for granted.
- Insist on politeness and respect all around.
When we teach our children to treat others with dignity and respect, they’ll be more likely to appreciate the ways in which those folks contribute to and improve their lives. By the same token, they’ll be less likely to take assistance and kindness for granted, and more likely to give it the value it deserves.
- Link gratitude to your Higher Power (if applicable in your household)
Most religious traditions emphasize the practice of gratitude through acknowledging blessings and through serving others. Attending regular religious services is one way for kids to gain a sense of gratitude as part of a community.
I feel very blessed that my family and I have so much to be grateful for:
- My husband and I being alive and present with our kids, after having gone through some recent tough years
- The excitement and joy my kids feel every time they see us.
- Food and shelter when so many people struggle to attain these basics of human needs
- All the wonderful men and women who dedicate their lives in service to their communities, and
- My Miracle Math family
You bring such meaning and joy into my life, and I am committed to improving the academic lives of your children.
I hope you all enjoy breathing in the fresh air and practicing being present and grateful for whatever it is you have today. Gratitude will not only improve your brain, but it also enhance the quality of life you live.
Visit our website today to learn more about what we do and why we are so grateful or to sign up for our FREE Learning Discovery Evaluation at MiraclemathCoaching.com or call us . We are closed 11/24-11/25 in observance of Thanksgiving but will resume services November 28th at 2:30pm.
Hugs and Happiness,