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Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.


Paulette Maggiacomo

Paulette Maggiacomo

November 1, 2021

As adults we are often reminded how important it is for us to welcome gratitude into our hearts. Gratitude enables us to re-define how we view our lives; as the saying goes, it can turn that frown upside down.

But how do we teach our children to internalize this concept?

To answer this question, I looked to Dr. Becky Bailey and Conscious Discipline for guidance. Conscious Discipline is composed of 7 Powers and 7 Skills. In order to teach children the skills needed, the adult must first internalize the Powers. So I wondered which Powers relate to gratitude.

The Power of Attention states that what you focus on, you get more of. Think of a flashlight shining on the positive behaviors that you see in your classroom. The constant mentioning of those behaviors results in more of them occurring.

“Sam and Lily, you did it. You are cleaning up the mess. That is helpful.”

“Toby, you did it. You gave Jackson a hug because he is sad. That was kind.”

By constantly shining that flashlight on positive behaviors, children will begin to understand that when they are helpful and kind to people, those people are filled with gratitude. They will also begin to internalize the concept themselves.

The Power of Love states that we are willing to see the best in others. This optimism that we project produces the hormone oxytocin in our brain which increases prosocial behavior. It allows us to see positive intent rather than negative intent. Some might say that it allows us to see the world through rose colored glasses.

Use your positive intent to see that Nathan is upset and how can you help him. Use Describe, Notice, and Acknowledge (DNA):

“Nathan, your face is going like this.”

Pause and wait for eye contact

“You seem angry.”

“You were hoping to stay outside.”

“You may walk like a robot or penguin to line up.”

“Which do you choose?”

“You did it, you walked like robot to lineup.”

Are you willing to look at this child and realize that he is not a problem to you but a chance to help strengthen his skills?

“Tyrone, your face is going like this.”

Pause and wait for eye contact

“You seem sad.”

“You want Mom to stay. She has go to work and will be back at the end of the day.”

(This is also a great time to show him the daily schedule and show him when his Mom will be back)

“It’s hard. You can handle this. Breathe with me.”

“Would you like to walk her to the door or wave from the window?”

“You did it. You chose to walk her to the door.”

“At Center Time, would you like to go to the Art Center and draw Mom a picture?” 

When you use this power to see the best in everyone, your children will feel safe and connected and are then ready to learn.

Are you willing to see that when you internalize The Powers of Attention and Love you can transform common days into Thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change opportunities to blessings within your classroom?

I am filled with gratitude for all that each and every one of you do day after day in your classrooms. You are all superheroes to me.

As always, until next time, I wish you well and may your heart be filled with gratitude……shine on.


A teacher sits with three preschoolers at a table. On the table are colorful toys.
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