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With Thanksgiving approaching, it is time to ask ourselves, do we really know how to appreciate what we have? This holiday is so much more than “putting up” with your relatives and eating turkey — and it is a great opportunity to remember to nourish the sense of gratitude, not only in yourself but also in your children.
It is never too early to start — the smaller they are the faster they absorb information, advice, and examples they are given. Their first step on “the road of thankfulness” will lead to them being happier, socially accepted, better people and actual contributors to making this world a better place. Here are some ways you can start encouraging them to practice gratitude:
1. Create a Thankful Atmosphere
Children are great imitators — they emulate what they see, so if you create an environment in your home where everyone will say “thank you” after even the tiniest act of kindness, they will, in time, learn to do the same.
Practice gratitude anytime you can, and encourage the other members of the family to do the same. This will not only teach the kids to show when they are feeling thankful, but it will also show them that they are appreciated members of the family.
2. Support Words with Actions
Words are not the only way to practice gratitude. Teach your kids that one of the ways to show they’re thankful to someone or for something is to show it with deeds.
Helping with chores will show how much they appreciate the hard work you are doing for them. This will also teach them the importance of putting someone else’s needs in front of theirs.
3. Giving Is Receiving
Sharing is the best way to show to practice gratitude. There are so many less fortunate people who can’t afford to have a turkey on the table during Thanksgiving and children who don’t even receive gifts for Christmas. Show your children the value of sharing what they have with someone who doesn’t have it.
You can prepare food for local shelters together. The kids can pack up their old clothes and toys and wrap them up as Christmas gifts. They can even make decorations or find Christmas lights online and decorate trees in homes for the elderly or orphanages.
4. The Difference between Wants and Needs
There is a whole market of overpriced toys and clothes for kids — and the ads are making both kids and parents believe that they have to have those things if they want to be happy. The truth is that most of the things are not really important and they will be interesting for kids only for a short while.
So, sit with your children and make a list of the things they want, and then go through it, discussing why they need them. It allows them to practice gratitude and bond with you. Win, win!
5. Superheroes as an Inspiration
We’re living in an age when superheroes are more popular than ever, and you can use that to your advantage. Kids are inherently fascinated with superheroes.
Try to put those superhumans into the perspective of young kids by explaining to them that, besides superpowers, what actually makes superheroes special are their friends and their desire to help others. They too have a lot to be thankful for, and they’re not shy to show it.
6. Practice Gratitude Every Chance You Get
Gratitude is not only saying you’re thankful, it is something that should always follow you. So, try to encourage your kids to think about what they’re grateful every night before they go to bed, to share it with you and even to write it down.
Trust them with the responsibility of writing thank you cards for gifts they receive during holidays or for their birthdays. It’s a great way to practice gratitude. Consider using Paperless Post — an easy way to send customized online cards, invitations, and flyers. They have a great selection of free and paid designs and you can easily make edits. In today’s technology-driven world, this is a must try — especially if you are looking to be more green.
Thankfulness is a foundation for a more fulfilled life, and it is best to be thought at a young age. By incorporating this core quality into the everyday life of your kids, you are making sure that they become more successful in their social life, education and later as adults. There is no better time to start teaching them than around Thanksgiving. Happy holidays!
9/25/18 Hey guys!! How do you practice gratitude? Have you started prepping for Thanksgiving or Halloween yet? I’m working on collecting pumpkins right now 🙂
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.