November is a natural time of the year where our minds gravitate toward thankfulness. Cultivating that practice in your children can be fun and built organically into your family structure, not just in this season but throughout the year. Below are some ideas on how to incorporate expressing gratitude in your family with your children:
- Add it into your routine – Your family naturally has routines and structures where you can easily add in a time of thankfulness. At bedtime, as children are brushing their teeth ask them to think about 2 things they are thankful for and tell you after they are done. You can ask them while you are reading books or tucking them into bed. Consider adding the question in while eating breakfast or in the car on the way home from school. Sharing “highs and lows” of their day can be easily altered to include what they are grateful for.
- Gratitude activities – There are many crafts or activities that incorporate thankfulness that you can make at home or find available on a website. You can create a “Thankfulness Jar” or a “Blessing Tree” where children write out something they are thankful for and put it in the jar or add it to the limbs of the tree. Consider making a chain link with colorful paper that is added to each day and strung along the wall or mantel. Another idea is use a corkboard or magnet board where you can pin up gratitude cards to display.
- Family gratitude journal – This can be used as a family or you can have each child write in their own journal. You can teach your child this practice that is ongoing through the year.
- Thankfulness in prayer – Many models for prayer begin with praise and thankfulness. As you lead your child in prayer, be sure to incorporate thankfulness for what God has done and will do in their lives. Your prayers should include tangible blessings in your life but also acknowledge the goodness of God in their lives and how He provides for them throughout all areas of their lives.
- Giving to others – Volunteering or giving items to others can show children the blessing and gifts they have in life and how they can bless others. This cultivates thankfulness by recognizing all they have been given and acknowledging the gift that is to them.
- Thankfulness in hardship – We all go through challenging circumstances that can make it hard to remember the good things we have in our lives. If your child is going through something difficult, allow them to acknowledge those feelings and difficulties and also acknowledge what remains positive in their situation. Don’t brush off the challenges by only focusing on the positive because their feelings are valid and should be recognized. However, you can show them how to remember to balance the positives and negatives they will experience throughout life.
As a parent, you may not be good at keeping a practice of thankfulness. These suggestions above can benefit you as well as your children. Thankfulness is something that needs to be approached with intention if it is not our natural response to any situation.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and are able to pause to recognize all the blessings in your life and family!