Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child about the spiritual practice of gratitude
Showing gratitude every minute of every day just isn’t part of what kids do. It’s not that they don’t appreciate what they have and who they are, it’s just that they are always learning and processing and soaking up information. It’s our job to slow them down and teach them to be thankful for what they have. It’s our job to capitalize on the small moments and help our kids stay grounded. It’s our job to model the gratitude that we want our kids to demonstrate each day.
Below are some tips for family gratitude practices:
- The Happiness Jar:
When kids become bored, frustrated, or feel like they don’t have what they really need in life, it can be useful to stop and think about what they do have. What you need:
A large glass jar and a stack of index cards.In a moment of calm, ask your kids to name the things that make them feel happy. Write one happy statement on each index card and place them in a large glass jar. Place the jar
in a prominent place and reach in and grab a happy statement when life starts to feel overwhelming or unfair. Talk about why that makes everyone happy. It might be playing cars, walks on the beach, or chasing butterflies
that makes your children happy on any given day. Sometimes they just need a gentle reminder that they can do any of these things. For that, they can be thankful.
- Three Good Things:
Bedtime is a great time to decompress and check in with your kids. It’s also a great time to talk about gratitude. Ask your child to identify three good things in her life as she goes to sleep. Keep a journal by her bed so that you can write them down and revisit them during the day. You will probably find that family, mommy & daddy, and favorite toys make the list often. Many kids tend to think about these things as they end the day. Having them verbalize it shows them that it feels good to go to sleep feeling happy and thankful.
- Collect Coins:
It’s no secret that kids love coins. They like to play with them, hoard them, fill their banks withthem, and throw them in fountains. Create a special coin collection jar. Have your kids put a few coins in the jar each week. When the jar is full, talk about local charities where they can donate the coins. Better yet, find a fountain that donates the coins to a local food bank or some other charity and make it a fun outing. Be sure to explain where they money
goes and how it helps other people. Kids (even toddlers) take great pride in helping others.
- Pick a Stick:
Do you ever feel like your kids are constantly looking for something to do despite shelves of books and toys? It can be tempting to start listing the things they should be grateful for, but this doesn’t actually teach a lesson. Sometimes kids just need visuals. Make a list of fun family activities and toys and games the kids have at their disposal. Make use of those extra craft sticks by writing one activity on the end of each stick. Flip the sticks over and ask your child to pick one. Flip the stick back over to see what activity the family should do next! Sometimes a simple game to make things fun reminds our children that wonderful things are all around us.
- Small Moments Photo Book:
I love to take pictures of our fun little moments each day. When I flip through the pictures at the end of the day, I always feel incredibly grateful for what I have. Why not give our kids the same experience? Give your child the
iPhone camera (or another camera) and let her document what makes her happy each day. Compile the pictures into simple photo books so that she can look back and feel grateful too. Warning: You might end up with 11 pictures of Easter chicks and 37 pictures of a “rock museum”.
How do you teach gratitude in your home?
Visit our Family Gratitude Pinterest Page
Check out these books about Gratitude & Thanksgiving
The Secret of Saying Thanks is a lovely book about Gratitude by Douglas Wood
Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks – by Maragaret Sutherland and Sonja Lamut
Grateful, A Song of Giving Thanks – by John Buchinno
I Am Grateful For…: A Beautiful Gratitude Journal for Kids and Teens by Kids n Values
Tips for Choosing Culturally Appropriate Books & Resources About Native Americans
Unitarian Universalist parents want our kids to have accurate and respectful information about Native Americans rather than the the inaccurate stories we learned about native people’s part in the Thanksgiving that we learned as children.
Here are tips for choosing books by by Dr. Cathy Gutierrez-Gomez