Between meal prep, holiday decorating, house cleaning, and out of town guests, the true meaning of Thanksgiving may be forgotten. Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the positives in life: roof over your head, food on the table, good health, and most importantly, your family. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to model gratitude for your children, but it is important to carry over gratefulness into your weekly routines.
Expressing Gratitude on Thanksgiving
- Donation. Donate toys, coats, and baby items to Children’s Home + Aid for their Holiday Gift Guide. Explain how some children are less fortunate and cannot afford new toys and clothes around the Holidays. Once your children understand the meaning behind the shopping, they will enjoy picking out new toys and clothes for another child!
- The Thankfulness Jar: Create your family thankfulness jar by adding pictures, stickers, or ribbons to a glass or plastic jar. Have each family member contribute to the jar by adding what he or she is most thankful for this year on a little piece of paper. At Thanksgiving dinner, have your kids take turns reading the notes. Make it a game by seeing how many people wrote similar notes!
- Thank you cards. Encourage your children to write a thank you card to all the people in their life they are thankful for. Cards may be given to grandparents, teachers, friends, coaches, therapists, etc.
- Volunteer:Little Brothers of Chicago provides support to the elders in Chicago. They offer multiple volunteer opportunities over the Holidays including Thanksgiving. Some volunteer roles include setting up for Thanksgiving meal, serving food, driving elders to one of the party locations, holiday home visits, home-delivered meals, and holiday party cook.
Encourage thankfulness not only during the Holidays:
- Model gratitude by showing appreciation for the little things in life. Talk about the beautiful weather, sharing time together at dinner, or playing in the backyard. Children imitate adults often, so make it positive!
- Give your children responsibilities around the house. Even if it takes double the time to complete a chore, your children will learn how much effort chores require. They will appreciate everything you do for them with nothing in return.
- Incorporate ‘high and low’ into dinner routine. During each dinner, go around the table and mention the best and worst part of the day.
- Reduce the amount of stuff accumulating in your home. Gifts should be reserved for special occasions. Resist the urge to give in every time they want something. Children will have more appreciate for their things if it was given to them on a special occasion or for a specific purpose.
- If your children get an allowance, have them contribute to buying a new toy or treat. This is a great way to teach the importance of working and saving for desired items.
- Give back to the community. If your children are old enough, urge them to help out a neighbor with a household chore or yard work. Volunteer as a family at a soup kitchen or nursing home.
- Thank you cards. As mentioned above, handwritten cards are important to teach children the importance of saying thanks.
Children learn more from what you do than what you teach. Show gratitude and give thanks often at home. Children will learn to find happiness for the important aspects of life more so than the materialistic. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family from Lumiere Children’s Therapy.
Latvala, Charlotte. “Teaching Children to Be Grateful.” Parents , www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/teaching-children-to-be-grateful/.
Reiser, Andrea. “11 Tips for Instilling True Gratitude in Your Kids.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 5 Feb. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-reiser/11-tips-for-instilling-true-gratitude-in-your-kids_b_4708019.html.