Create a Gratitude & Happiness Journal To Boost Your Child's Mood

It's a great step towards helping them be in charge of their own happiness.

With millions of children now staying at home, parents are looking for ways to help their children get through this unsettling time. What if there was a daily practice you could do at home with your kids that could help them be happier—now and throughout their lives? There is! It's called gratitude journaling, and it's a simple activity that can lead to increased happiness, will boost your child's mood, and will have them appreciating the simple joys in life—yes, even at time like this.

Why kids should practice gratitude & journaling

Studies have shown that practicing gratitude makes you happier and that journaling keeps you in touch with your feelings. According to Harvard Medical School and Berkeley, being grateful helps people feel more positive emotions, appreciate good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build stronger relationships. Those who intentionally focus on recognizing people and things they are thankful for—on a daily or weekly basis—report feeling happier. Plus, there's the added benefit that journaling is a great opportunity to help children with handwriting, spelling, and sentence structure. Add creativity and art to the mix, and you've got a happy book!

The benefits

▪ They can achieve anything when they're persistent.
▪ They understand they are in charge of their own lives and happiness.
▪ They learn how to believe in themselves.
▪ They learn how to face challenges with confidence.
▪ They understand that mistakes are opportunities to grow and learn from.
▪ They turn their negative self-talk into something positive and empowering.
▪ They are able to practice setting goals.
▪ They learn to overcome challenges and setbacks.
▪ They learn to focus.
▪ They learn to appreciate things and people around them.
▪ They improve their writing skills.
▪ They become more positive and therefore happier.


Getting started

It can be very basic such as stapling a stack of papers or using a spiral notebook. You can make it more elaborate buy purchasing a bound journal; a hard book cover will last longer. Your child can personalize the cover—make it a craft activity to create an awesome book. A binder with tabs allows you to create different sections and makes it easier to add resources and drawings. The only other supplies needed are writing tools and colouring crayons. If your child is younger, create a fun scrapbook with drawings, collages, simple words and captions to reflect how they feel and what they are thankful for. Add pages weekly.

Sections you may want include in the journal

Take it one step further and make this book 'all about them' by including other aspects of their life that will help keep them happy and healthy. Sections of the book can include:

▪ My Happiness Tracker (what makes your child happy).
▪ My Appreciation List (what your child appreciates).
▪ My Relaxation Activities (include their resources for meditation, mindfulness practice, deep breathing and other mood-lifting exercises).
▪ My Energy Tracker (include physical exercises and activities they enjoy that help boost their physical health).
▪ My Art (doodles and drawings often help express what's on their mind, and drawing is a great creative outlet for kids).
▪ My Inspiration (have your child include some of their favourite inspirational quotes that have motivated and encouraged them).
▪ My Health (take it a step further and have your child keep a checklist of everything that makes them healthy; food, sleep and other healthy habits).

Note: Your child should date each journal entry. Later, it will be fun to look back and see what they were grateful for at different ages and stages. 

Suggested phrases to help shape their grateful and happy thoughts

▪ I am happy because...
▪ 3 things I am grateful and thankful for...
▪ One awesome thing that happened today was...
▪ Thank you for...
▪ I am so lucky and this is why...
▪ Here are some nice things I did today...
▪ This didn't work out so well today but this is how I learn to do better...
▪ This is something I can do to make today a better day...
▪ 5 things that I love about my life...
▪ 5 things I love about me...
▪ 3 things I can do better...
▪ Today or this week, I learned all about...
▪ Today or this week, I solved...
▪ My favourite place in the house is (and why)...
▪ The most important people in my life are (and why)...
▪ These are my favourite things...
▪ This week, I discovered a yummy 'new' food...

It can take some time for gratitude journaling to become a habit for your child. Set a time and place for them to journal each day. Start slow and build up. If this activity is overwhelming, break it up into smaller bits. For example, they can do a small post in the morning (to help focus on the day ahead), at lunchtime (a check-in on how the day is going so far) and at night (a review of the day - but keep this one positive before bedtime.) They can also just make one single entry daily, by choosing one of the statements above, or some may only want to write when they feel the need to record their feelings.

In the end, this routine will help a journaling habit begin to form—which will hopefully follow them throughout their lives. As parents, you can also help your kids by observing, seeking out and talking about the positive things happening around them, during your daily routine at home. And remember, this gratitude journal doesn't just apply to kids—teens and parents can do the same!

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