Happy Thanksgiving! This week we celebrate a holiday that should carry a lot of meaning for us and for our children. If we could learn to be thankful, it would change our perspective on what we have, what we don’t have, and how we should respond to those around us. A worthy goal is to live out Thanksgiving all the time, not just in late November.
So how can we nurture that in our children? You may have ways you’re doing that already in your home, but here are a few more ideas to consider:
Model it. This is similar to just about any other positive behavior: if your kids see you emphasize gratitude, it’s more likely to rub off on them. Find ways to draw attention to how fortunate and blessed you are. That could mean telling your children how grateful you are for them, or for their day-to-day efforts to be helpful, obedient, and responsible. Also, let your kids join you in thanking others who have contributed positively to your life and theirs — babysitters, teachers and youth sponsors, faith mentors, coaches, and so on.
Make it part of your routine. Around the dinner table, before bed, or just driving along in the car to basketball practice, ask your child, “Tell me one thing you’re thankful for today.”
Give to others. Showing kindness to others is a great way to help your children take their focus off themselves, and it allows them (and you) to empathize with what others may be going through. This would also likely make you more grateful for what you have. There are all kinds of opportunities to donate toys or clothes to charities, and volunteering (giving your time) can be even more powerful. Your children may even discover that giving is fun!
- Plan some activities for this weekend that your family can do together — that don’t involve the TV.
- Imagine that it’s Thanksgiving in the year 2020, and you’re looking back on today. What do you think you would miss about this phase of your kids’ lives? Tell them today — even if the things you think you’d miss are mundane things or even slightly annoying habits.
- Commit to a vigorous outdoor activity with your kids this weekend. Push the limits and be creative.