Although Thanksgiving is over, there are ways to teach children to continue being grateful and thankful throughout the year:
Lead by Example
Children often learn best by observing the behavior of adults around them. Be deliberate in your own actions and behavior and model gratitude for your kids. Make a habit of vocalizing what you are thankful for, whether it’s a beautiful sunset, a delicious meal, or a thoughtful gesture from a friend, remember kids learn from watching and listening.
Create a Gratitude Journal
Encourage your child to keep a simple gratitude journal. If they cannot write yet, than you can do this with them each night before they go to bed. This can be a notebook or a drawing pad where they jot down or draw things they are thankful for each day.
Incorporate Thankfulness into Daily Conversations
During daily conversations, intentionally bring up topics related to gratitude. Ask your child about the best part of their day or what made them happy. This helps the kids to focus on positive experiences and fosters a habit of recognizing and appreciating the good things.
Engaging in acts of kindness and giving back to the community reinforces gratitude. Find age-appropriate volunteer opportunities where your child can actively participate, whether it’s sorting food at a local pantry, helping create weekly donation bags for Good Will or creating cards for elderly neighbors, or helping them in with groceries.
Storytime with Moral Lessons
Choose books that emphasize the values of gratitude, kindness, and thankfulness. After reading, discuss the story with your child, asking them how the characters felt and why gratitude played a role in the narrative.
Gratitude Jar or Box
Create a gratitude jar or box where your child can place notes expressing what they are thankful for. Periodically, gather together to read the notes aloud. This visual representation reinforces the practice of recognizing and appreciating positive aspects of life.
Incorporate mindfulness into mealtimes by discussing the journey of the food from farm to table. Reminding the children where the food came from, will help make them understand deeper that the food they are eating doesn’t just come from the grocery store. The farmer had to grow it, the delivery man had to bring it from the farm to the store, and then whoever purchased the food must make it. Lots of opportunities to thank all the individuals responsible for getting a meal on the table.
Celebrate Small Achievements
Acknowledge and celebrate your child’s achievements, no matter how small. This fosters a sense of accomplishment and encourages them to be grateful for their abilities and the support they receive.
Help your child understand the feelings of others. Having self-awareness is the foundation to being aware of their own behaviors. Discussions around how actions impact others, and encourage them to show love, gratitude, and kindness. Understanding the perspectives of others naturally leads to a greater appreciation for the positive aspects of their own lives.
Teach your child the joy of giving by involving them in the process of creating simple, heartfelt gifts for family members or friends. The act of giving reinforces the concept that gratitude is reciprocal and extends beyond receiving, which is something children really do not understand in early child development.
Incorporating these practices into your child’s daily routine can help cultivate a lasting attitude of gratitude. When you bring awareness to being grateful and thankful for all the things that surround us, it helps lay the foundation for a positive and appreciative mindset that will benefit the kids throughout the rest of their lives.