3 Ways to Practice Gratitude With Your Family


Gratitude, one of ESF’s 8 Virtues of Character, is a fundamental, positive practice that strengths almost every aspect of mental and physical well-being. Studies have found that practicing gratitude enhances empathy, reduces aggression, promotes better sleep, improves self-esteem, and fosters resiliency. But, like any skill, gratitude is a practice. By taking a little time every day to show appreciation, you’re training your brain to actively acknowledge the good around you!

At ESF Camps, we thread opportunities throughout the camp day to strengthen character muscles, thereby making character development a key differentiator of an ESF Experience. We practice gratitude every day to help strengthen this and other character muscles by sharing what we are grateful for and expressing appreciation for each other through the ESF Gratitude Rock tradition. ESF is the premier camp experience for valuable life lessons.

“Building character drives higher achievement and greater fulfillment in life,” says Dr. Loehr, a world-renowned performance psychologist, best-selling author and ESF subject matter expert.

Here are three ways your family can practice gratitude together!

Make a gratitude Jar

Take an old vase (or a mason jar if you’re really feeling trendy), and set it up in a central location in your home—like the kitchen. Leave a small pile of paper and a pen next to the vase and encourage your family to write down gratitudes throughout the day. Once a week after dinner, take turns pulling the paper out of the jar to read the gratitudes as a family! It’s an easy way to carve out some extra family time during the week, and the jar sitting on the countertop is a great visual reminder to find things you are grateful for every day.

Keep a gratitude journal

Make gratitude a part of your child’s bedtime routine! Grab a journal and have your child write down 5 things they were grateful for that day. You can start with sentences as simple as “I am grateful for my friends,” but as time goes on and you strengthen these muscles by upgrading to specific appreciations like, “I am grateful for my friend for helping me with my math homework when I struggled with the lesson.” This is the perfect way to end the night on a positive note while getting a glimpse into your child’s day!

Go on gratitude walks

Combine exercise and appreciation with dedicated gratitude walks! Explore your neighborhood or hometown while discussing your gratitudes along the way. You can talk about the good things that happened that day or express gratitude for the things you see along your walk.

Too cold for long walks? Work it into your daily life! Even something as small as discussing gratitude as you walk from your car to school when you drop your kids off in the morning can be a great start!

So let’s begin–what are you grateful for today?