As Thanksgiving approaches, the chaos of the winter holidays can overshadow its essence. The spirit of thankfulness is a complex one for young kids to grasp, but by by modeling generosity all year long and talking about the subject, your child will begin to absorb and emulate this emotion. It’s a great start to discuss thankfulness during this time of year, but its more powerful to incorporate it into the everyday all year long.
And I’m not talking about the usual prompt, “What do you saaaay?” that we’ve all sung to our kids. Reminding kids to say thank you is simply a matter of politeness and doesn’t necessarily translate into a general attitude of gratitude.
So, how do we raise thankful children?
- Make gratitude a habit. Spend time each day appreciating what you have (love, shelter, food, family, friends, courage). You might create a daily ritual or tradition to help you remember to be grateful and establish family traditions for thinking about what we are thankful for and sharing it with others. Maybe you have a thankful tree, journal, shoebox, tablecloth, calendar, or space on the refrigerator.
- Adopt an attitude of gratitude. This means being thankful no matter what our situation in life. Thankfulness means that we are aware of both our blessings and disappointments but that we focus on the blessings.
- Express your thanks out loud. Don’t be quietly thankful. Your children need to know you are thankful for them, for your home, for friends, mentors, and for the other good things in your life. Celebrate your thankfulness often and initiate conversations.
- Be generous or giving and express how it affects others. Talk about being on both sides: giving and receiving. There are many ways to give: donating blood, money, food, clothing, time, and/or energy. Share these experiences with your children. Many community service projects are appropriate for elementary aged children.
By establishing any one of these practices, you can move the spirit of Thanksgiving from a one-day event to a foundational aspect of life.
For inspiration on crafts incorporating the theme of thankfulness, check out the projects on this fabulously artsy site.