Feeling gratitude is a skill that you can very easily teach your children. And not just on Thanksgiving, but by teaching children how to count their blessings all year long, Thanksgiving will have so much more meaning! Here are some tools to teach your child to see all the gifts in life:
- Every night at bedtime, have your child tell you three good things they experienced that day. If you do this consistently you will notice your child starting to look for good things throughout their day. Once they get used to this practice, increase the count to five! For older children, have them write their good things down in a journal. By writing about the good experiences they can relive those positive emotions all over again, which is a great way to end your day!
Tell your child about a challenging time you have gone through in your life and what good came from it. This teaches your child that even if they are having a hard time with something, something good can always be found in the situation. It teaches them to look for the silver lining.
Write a thank you letter. Have your child think of a person that means a lot to them. This could be a family member, a friend or a teacher. Help your child write a thank you letter and give it to the person - or better yet - read it to the person. This teaches your child to not be afraid to tell people what they mean to them, and when they appreciate something someone else did for them. This tool can also be incorporated around birthdays and Christmas when a child can write thank you notes to the gift givers.
- Do something nice! Doing something nice for someone can make you feel really good! Show your kids how baking a treat for a friend, helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or giving to a food bank or toy drive can make us feel helpful and appreciated.
- Last but not least... Teach by example! Make sure you show your appreciation to your spouse and children when they do something thoughtful. Say thank you to tellers and waitresses. Tell your children the items on your gratitude list. After all, children do as we do and not as we say. And a family that practices gratitude together is a happier family!