Heading into Thanksgiving and the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to encourage your kids to be grateful. Not only is saying “thank you” to others a way of practicing kindness, but having an attitude of gratitude helps them develop life skills such as empathy, mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment. It can also help your little ones deal with stress, especially once they grow older.
Here are some easy ways to teach your kiddos to be grateful (it’s a wonderful reminder for all of us, too!)
1- Write thank you cards
Make an activity out of writing thank you cards with your kids. Whether it’s for a gift they receive or an act of kindness, creating thank you notes together is a great way to get them in this habit. It will ensure they pause and take the time to appreciate receiving.
2- Talk about your “Top 3”
At the end of every day, ask your kids to list the 3 things they are most grateful for that day or the 3 best things about that day. This is a calming activity and a great introduction to mindfulness (gratitude journaling is based on this principle). You can even ask them to do this during bath-time; I love asking my kids “What was a rose?” during bath-time, it’s a great way for me to bond with them in this moment.
Or work this into your bedtime routine, once they are calm and easing into bedtime. Make sure you share your “Top 3” every day as well!
3- Create a “give list”
A play on a “wish list,” have your kids write a list of things they believe friends and family members would enjoy receiving this holiday season -- it can even be homemade items they can create as an arts and crafts project. This is a fun way to practice empathy and ask your kids to think about others’ wishes.
4- Get them involved in a goodwill project
Choose a cause or charity you would like to help out, as a family. Or you can even do little things to help others, in your day-to-day. For example, bake cupcakes together for a neighbor or friend who is sick or in need of a “pick-me-up.” While adding sprinkles, talk about how happy the neighbor will be when they receive this delicious treat.
5- Talk about gratitude daily
Work appreciation and being grateful into your daily conversation. Say things like, “Wow, isn’t it amazing to wake up to this beautiful sunny day?” and “We are so lucky that we get to enjoy this wonderful activity together as a family.” When gratitude becomes a natural theme in your home, the kids will catch on.
6- Practice saying “no.”
As tough as it can be to say no when your kids beg you for that toy “they have to have, pretty please with a cherry on top?”, resist the urge to give in to every request. It will make the “yeses” even more special.
7- Put away some birthday and holiday gifts
After a birthday party or holiday celebration, let the kids choose the one or two toys they’d like to play with first. Hide the rest and distribute them gradually, rather than giving them all at once.
Be good and be grateful!