Teaching our children gratitude and to appreciate all they have is challenging in a world where we have oh so much. It’s not impossible, though, and one of the best ways is by modeling gratitude, giving thanks, and showing appreciation yourself. This can be (and should be) done year-round, but Thanksgiving is an extra special time to talk about gratitude with our children and actively practice giving thanks.
I printed out a simple 30 Days of Giving Thanks paper and put it up on our fridge for our daughter. I talked with her about taking time each day to think about all she has and noting something she is thankful for each day throughout the month of November. At first it was easy for her: food, clothing, shelter, family. As she got half-way through the month, I noticed she went a few days without jotting down anything, so I reminded her about her gratitude exercise. She mentioned that it was getting hard to think of things to write down and that “pretty much everything was covered.” I took the opportunity to push her to think about non-tangible things she could appreciate and used the example of spending one-on-one time with her as something I’m thankful for.
My humorous, silly girl, true to herself, wrote down that she was thankful for toilets because she’s glad “it’s not like the old days where they had none and had to go in the woods!” (I agree 100%!) But, as the days continued, something even more interesting happened. As our household battled a bit of sickness, I saw my girl write down she was thankful for things like warmth and health – things she may not have thought of had she not experienced being sick and cold in those moments.
For that, I am thankful. I’m thankful that my girl was able to take even seemingly small experiences and translate those experiences into lessons. I’m thankful that no matter what she keeps her humor and is able to find a silly side of things. I’m thankful we were able to learn from each other through a simple exercise in giving thanks.
This Thanksgiving, I wish you and your family a wonderful day full of joy, laughter, and love. May it be a wonderful holiday for you and yours!
Photo: Cindi Albright/Flickr