Every night, after reading books and before prayers and a song, I ask my toddler what her favorite part of the day was. Sometimes she’s quick to answer, other times she really has to think about it. And every once and a while, she tells me something that happened the day before because she can’t think of anything good that happened today. (I remind her what she did today and make her choose again). Whatever she says turns into the first line in our prayer, “Jesus thank you for…”
This nightly routine has produced some very sweet and very silly answers.
It points out to me what sticks out to her. One time it was the sticker she got at the Kroger checkout line. Another day was the craft they did at preschool. Sometimes it’s playing with friends, seeing family, or getting a new toy.
There are days when we played with friends, got a special snack, went to a cool park, talked with Grandma on the phone and picked out a new outfit, and she’ll say her favorite part of the day was watching a show. Those are the nights when I sit there for a moment, take a breath and say, “Okay.” And then later I laugh because what the heck.
I don’t do this to gain feedback from my kid. It’s not a survey to assess my parenting or memory-making skills. We do this to reflect and create a thankful heart.
As an adult when I start naming what I’m grateful for, I can feel the pull in my heart.
The list may start off petty but grows to be heartfelt and helps to shift my perspective. Gratitude can become a mighty weapon in the hands of even the smallest person. It helps battle apathy, selfishness, jealousy and a bad attitude.
I want to set my kids up with the gear they need to battle hard days. So when they’re older, they’ll have the habit of looking back over the day and finding that one thing they liked. Just one thing to be thankful for.
This world can be hard. Our children will experience all sorts of ups and downs but as their parents, we can help ground them with gratitude. And it can start with a simple, “What was your favorite part about the day?”