Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

The way you can measure a society’s soul is by the way that it treats its children.
Nelson Mandela

Issue No. 68 – 9th December 2008

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Developing an Attitude of Gratitude 

At this time of year tempers can very easily get frayed as people gear up to the extra demands of the festive season. It is all too easy to overlook the spirit of Christmas in the hurly-burly of activity.  When you do all those craft sessions with the children and prepare them for the Christmas concert, practising all those carols and other items, is it a joy or a stressful series of chores? End of year fatigue usually means we push ourselves just to survive. Joy and pleasure (and dare I say love of giving?) are usually reserved for after the event when we are at home relaxing during the holidays and have the benefit of hindsight. 

I suggest you change all that by changing your attitude. Choose to make it fun; pleasure not pain. No-one is holding a gun to your head saying that your class’s concert has to be the best on record, nor that it has to be an event ‘bigger than Ben Hur’. Think of ways to relieve the stress while increasing the pleasure. How to do this? Work within what the children are capable of and what they enjoy, rather than feeling it is about you and what you think ought to be done. It’s not a competition. When you remove yourself from the equation, things usually work out for the best. The parents just want to see their child on stage. They won’t see the hours of preparation, not to mention blood, sweat and tears that you have put in. Whether the children are abysmal or terrific will make no difference to the adoring parents so get that monkey off your back and start enjoying the process.  

Develop an attitude of gratitude. Think of all the things that are great about this time of year. How does that include the children in your care? Once you start this way of thinking, it becomes habitual. Teach the children to develop the same attitude. Ask them to think about the year that’s about to end. What was great about it? Even the bad things have a good side to them if you look. For example, a child may have had a stint in hospital. That’s bad. But I bet they got lots of presents and cards and visitors, which equals lots of love which made them feel special, so that’s good. You get the idea. Get the older children to write about what they’re grateful for, while the pre-schoolers can draw pictures. (In fact starting or ending each day thinking of five things you’re grateful for is a beautiful exercise. Try it. Encourage the kids too to keep gratitude journals.)

Even a very young child can be taught this. I recently received a Christmas card and letter from a friend interstate. Each year she asks her children to include a message in the letter about their favourite things. Her almost-three-year-old said ‘his brothers and sister, cuddles, Fireman Sam DVD and his racing car shoes.’ The younger the child the more likely they are to focus on what’s wonderful in their world. We can recapture that and teach our children to maintain that attitude. There are actually no ‘bad’ things in life, as everything is a learning experience, but we label them bad or good depending on our attitude. In our current economic climate many people see black clouds. Entrepreneurs see abundant opportunity. It all depends on your attitude. Those familiar with ‘The Secret’ will know that what you focus on expands, so if you focus on all the things that you are grateful for you’ll get more of them.

If you take your break before the next newsletter, enjoy your holidays and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year with your loved ones. Meantime, enjoy the end of term festivities. I look forward to connecting with you at the end of January.

Quotes of the Week

No person has ever gone blind from looking at the bright side of life.  source unknown.

People will forget what you said and what you did, but they won’t forget how you made them feel. source unknown.


When Insults Had Class

These glorious insults are from an era when cleverness with words was still valued’

The exchange between Churchill & Lady Astor: She said, “If you were my husband I’d give you poison,” and he said, “If you were my wife, I’d drink it.”

A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “on whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”

“He had delusions of adequacy.” – Walter Kerr

“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill

“A modest little person, with much to be modest about.” – Winston Churchill

“I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow


I learnt the art of story telling as a relaxation activity. Very lovely music and simply presented. Activities were varied as were visual stimuli.  Maija Upenieks, ECCPA Conference 2008

About The Author

Marlene Rattigan B.A., Dip. Ed. (ECS), CELTA

Marlene Rattigan is an Early Childhood teacher, a teacher of English as a Second Language, and from 1987-2000 was a nationally accredited fitness leader. Her background is in music education. A keen interest in motor development in children led to the creation of Kidz-Fiz-Biz which she taught successfully for 13 years. Marlene also conducts workshops for children, teachers and parents at schools, in the community and at festivals. She has produced teaching manuals complete with audio CDs which are an extension of her ‘Kidz-Fiz-Biz’ program.

PO Box 6894, East Perth WA 6892, Australia
T: +61 8 9325 1204 M: +61 (0) 410 64 2781 E:

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Until next time – continue being a legend in your classroom.

Marlene Rattigan, Editor
Kidz Newz

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