A Journey in Cultivating Thankfulness in a Toddler

Embracing Gratitude Early: A Journey in Cultivating Thankfulness in a Toddler– Parenting Insights from Joanna Flora

I was recently reflecting on how my own process with gratitude has unfolded over the years and how much practicing gratitude consistently has positively impacted my life.  The beginning of my gratitude journey started when I was in college and by chance elective – ‘The Science of Happiness’ – unexpectedly brought positive changes to my daily outlook and personality. 

In college, the seeds of gratitude were planted through daily activities aimed at boosting happiness. Several years later, as a new business owner, I was feeling a bit lonely, and I stumbled upon the transformative power of gratitude practices. Following a guide by Rachel Hollis, I integrated these practices into my daily life, noticing significant shifts in my perspective and overall happiness. Gratitude ceased to be a mere journaling exercise: it became a part of my interactions at the grocery store, during the challenging times of the pandemic, and in my daily quest to spread love and positivity.

Over a decade later, in 2023, I find myself navigating the joyous path of motherhood with my two-year-old son Austin. This journey has prompted me to explore ways of instilling gratitude in him, drawing from both personal experiences and professional insights as a clinician.

With Austin now at the tender age of two, my focus has shifted to parenting with intentionality. My husband and I are determined to break the cycle of entitlement often associated with parenting. We have introduced simple yet impactful practices, such as encouraging Austin to greet others. These have evolved into a natural part of his personality – from saying hello to daycare staff to waving at the gas station attendant with a fist bump.

Modeling gratitude is key, and, as parents, our conscious effort to express thanks in front of Austin is making a noticeable impact. He’s learning to respond with gratitude, even without prompts, showing his understanding through extended eye contact.

Recently, as Austin celebrated his second birthday, we embarked on a heartfelt journey of gratitude. Together, we wrote thank-you cards for his gifts, a practice aimed at instilling the value of appreciating kindness. The process, from coloring the cards independently to cheering for himself after completing each one, was a beautiful testament to Austin’s growing understanding of gratitude.

In sharing my insights and experiences, I hope ‘Gratitude Starts Early: Parenting Insights from Joanna Flora’ serves as a resource for parents seeking to cultivate thankfulness in their children. Intentional practices — from simple greetings to heartfelt thank-you cards and the acts of thankfulness in between — showcase the power of early exposure to gratitude.

As we continue on this journey, let’s foster an environment where gratitude becomes second nature for our children. Together, we can break the cycle of entitlement and ultimately nurture a generation that appreciates the beauty of expressing thanks.

Useful Links:

For further exploration into the science of gratitude, I recommend Mel Robbins’ insightful podcast, ‘The Science of Gratitude & 6 Surprising Ways You’re Getting It Wrong.’ Dive into this enlightening discussion here: Link to Mel Robbins’ Podcast.

For ongoing parenting tips, personal anecdotes, and insights into the world of gratitude, stay connected with Flora & Associates. Your journey toward raising grateful and appreciative children is a shared adventure, and together, we can make every step count.”