During this time of year we all tend to think a little more about what we are thankful for. I know I tend to talk to my daughter more about what this means and how we can help others during the holiday season. I’ve caught myself more than once over the past few weeks thinking, however, about how important it is to teach my kids gratitude not only during this season but also all year long. So, let’s start now but also keep it up all year! Here are just a few of my favorite ways to start teaching our kids what it means to be thankful.
1. Volunteer together as a family. If our kids are going to recognize and appreciate what they have they also need to see what other don’t have or simply learn to look at other’s needs. Volunteering together could mean seeking out a soup kitchen or food pantry. It can mean engaging in a community clean-up project through your church or other organization. It may also be something as simple as raking leaves for a neighbor.
2. Donate. Find a way to take your extras and give them to someone who could use them. You can have your children sort through old toys or books and choose some they would like to donate. Make them a part of the process from the sorting, to the packing, and the delivering. Let’s lead by example here too. I’m sure we can all find some things we are not using that can really bless someone else.
3. Talk about what you are thankful for. Many of us may do this at the dinner table on Thanksgiving but why wait for Thanksgiving? Promoting gratitude could start at the dinner table or at bedtime every night by saying one thing you are thankful for from your day. I like to ask my three year old “What was the best part of your day?” Sometimes their answers may surprise you!
4. Send a thank you note. My daughter loves to color, draw, and paint. In any given week I end up with a stack of her masterpieces. Why not share the love and send them to friends, family, or even your local retirement community or hospital. You can write a special note and let someone know that you are thankful for them. In the age of technology and instant communication it is always fun to get a special letter via snail mail (that’s not a bill!).
I hope these ideas get you started thinking about how you can promote an attitude of gratitude in your home. If you have things you do with your kids please share them with me. I’d love to hear them!