Gratitude is the practice of being thankful for the things we receive in our life. These things can be tangible, like feeling a sense of gratitude for having a roof over your head or warm food in your belly. Or it can be intangible, like being thankful for the love you feel for your family or being grateful for your intelligence or your ability to relate to others.
The practice of being grateful and putting it out into the universe is an important one. It’s a practice that I am starting to share with my young children in the hopes that it becomes a wonderful habit that they can bring into adulthood.
What Is a Gratitude Jar?
A gratitude jar is a tool you can use to promote a practice of gratitude. It is a physical jar used to collect all of the things you are grateful for. Creating a gratitude jar is a simple activity that you can do with your kids.
The purpose of a gratitude jar is to have a visual reminder of all of the things you are grateful for. It’s a place to hold all of the things you consider to be the dearest in life. A gratitude jar can be a great initiator of communication between you and your kids when it comes to talking about the things you are most grateful for. It can be a way to start those important conversations.
Reasons to Start a Gratitude Jar
If you’ve heard about a gratitude jar and have been thinking about creating one, now is the time to do it. There are so many reasons to practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a way to focus on the positive things in your life. It’s a way to draw your attention to all of the things you do have rather than the things you lack.
Scientific research consistently demonstrates the importance of gratitude and positive psychology on an individual. Studies have found links between gratitude and improved physical and psychological well-being. There are even links between practicing gratitude and cardiovascular health. People who frequently express feelings of gratitude have demonstrated increased positive emotions, lower levels of stress, and even improved quality of sleep.
The practice of being grateful can literally improve your health. What a great gift to share with your family.
Decoration Ideas for Gratitude Jar
To create a gratitude jar, you only need a few items:
- A clear jar (can be a glass mason jar or plastic container)
- Slips of paper (for writing what you are grateful on)
When it comes to the type of decorations you and your family want to use on your jar, the sky’s the limit. Embrace your creativity and go crazy with glitter, jewels, stickers, and feathers. Cover your jar in paint, or use markers to draw on your favorite designs. Go online and find free printables that can be used to decorate your jar. You can even use a marker or paint to write some of your favorite quotes, sayings, or poems on the outside of your jar. Of course, if you are stuck for inspiration, you can always hop onto Pinterest and search for “diy gratitude jar” or “thankful jar.” This will help you to find hundreds of unique and beautiful ideas for your jar.
How to Use Your Gratitude Jar
While it can be really fun for kids to decorate their gratitude jar, it’s important to remember that what goes inside the jar is more important than what it looks like. The actual practice of gratitude involves writing down what you are grateful for on a piece of paper and then adding it to the jar. Maybe you’re grateful for a peaceful sleep you had the night before or for the kind text message you received from a friend. Whatever it may be, write it down and place it in your jar.
When to Practice Gratitude
You can decide if you want to make this a daily, biweekly, or weekly practice. Whatever you feel works best for you. When you are feeling down or having a bad day, simply reach into your gratitude jar to retrieve one of your notes for what you are grateful for. This can act as a great pick-me-up and can often completely change your mood.
Tips for Using Your Gratitude Jar With Kids
If you’re doing this with your kids, it can help to give them some prompts for what they are grateful for. For instance, I might say, “tell me about a time when you were grateful for something your teacher did for you at school.” Or, “tell me about a time that your friend did something that made you feel grateful.” Or, “tell me about your favorite toy,” or, “if you could write anyone in your life a thank-you letter, who would you send it to and what would you thank them for?”
A prompt can be more helpful with young kids than simply asking them, “what do you feel grateful for?” Gratefulness can be an abstract concept, so putting some context around it will help your kids develop their gratitude practice.
Where to Keep a Gratitude Jar
Where you keep your gratitude jar is completely up to you. However, if you want to keep gratitude on the top of your mind, it can help to have your jar somewhere where you see it regularly. The more visible your jar is, the easier it is to remember to participate in your gratitude practice.
With young kids, you might encourage them to keep their jars in the kitchen or living rooms so you can work on their gratitude slips as a family and make it more of a discussion. If you want to get in a daily gratitude practice, you can pull one gratitude slip from a different family member’s jar each night and discuss what you are grateful for at the dinner table. Or, even consider creating a family-wide gratitude jar where you all contribute to what is inside. This can be a beautiful way to initiate a positive family conversation.
Practice Gratitude as a Family
It can be so easy to compare yourself to others and focus on what you don’t have instead of all the things you do have. As a parent, I want to raise non-materialistic children, ones who are more concerned about who they are and how they treat others than what they have. Using a gratitude jar is one way you can help your kids, and yourself, to focus on the things that really matter.
— By Jessica Martel