Are you feeling thankful right now?
This year has been undeniably challenging with all the changes brought on by COVID-19 restrictions and political discord. As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, you may find it hard to identify something you are grateful for.
You can be grateful for different things, ranging from material items to beautiful sunsets to how someone treats you. You can also find gratitude from the good that comes out of bad things.
Did you know that gratitude is important for youth development? Sadly, an "attitude of gratitude" is not an innate ability; you have to nurture it.
At my house, my preschooler knows he is supposed to say "please" and "thank you," but he doesn't understand why it is so important to appreciate the good things he has.
You see, gratitude is deeply rooted in the ability to empathize with others, to walk in someone else's shoes, and to see what they sacrificed for you. My son is just beginning to feel empathy for others, as he realized that it made his friend sad when he knocked over her toy.
By grade school, children can grasp complex emotions, including appreciation. They feel compassion and can empathize with others. This age is a great time to begin fostering a feeling of gratitude.
Gratitude can be encouraged in various ways, and like any other skill, needs to be practiced.
Activities such as talking about what you're grateful for, doing chores, helping others, and writing thank-you notes are easy ways to practice appreciation. But it doesn't have to stop there; journaling, reading books, and donating money have also been proven to increase gratitude.
Gage County 4-H provides many opportunities for youth to practice these skills through citizenship projects and community service. Though it may seem like a chore, we prioritize writing thank you notes for awards, volunteering, and helping others.
Expressing and receiving gratitude has many benefits for children and adults alike. The Youth Gratitude Project reports a link between gratitude and stronger immune systems, more joy, hope, happiness, better relationships, and higher GPAs.
Why not make gratitude the focus of this year's Thanksgiving. Although we are in challenging times, there is much to be grateful for. I challenge you to search for it.
Gage County 4-H enrollment is now open for the 2021 year! Contact Jacie Milius at (402) 223-1384, Jacie.email@example.com, or visit the Gage County Extension website at gage.unl.edu for more information.
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