In November, we think a lot about the things we're thankful for. We post about them on Facebook and Instagram. We spend weeks preparing for Thanksgiving dinner, and express our gratitude for the meal. But what are we doing to foster thankfulness in our children?
As a parent, I want to raise kids who have adopted an attitude of gratitude. (These heartwarming quotes from children's titles, and these books about gratitude, can help!) I want thankfulness to become part of their character, rather than just something they think about once a year in November.
In order to foster a thankful spirit, I came up with a list of four easy activities that will get kids thinking about the things they're thankful for.
1. Write Thank-You Notes
Bring back the tradition of having your child write thank-you notes for gifts received. Older children can write their own notes — this printable thank-you note template can help get them started — while younger children can dictate their note to an adult. Not only will the handwritten note brighten the giver’s day, it also reminds your child to stop and be grateful for the things they’ve received.
2. Create a 'Thankful Turkey'
Pull out the construction paper and help your child create a paper turkey. Cut out a shape for the body, a round head, a beak, and a red wattle. Next, cut out paper feathers. Each day, have your child write down one thing she is thankful for on a paper feather, and tape it to the turkey. By the end of the month, your turkey’s tail will be full of your child’s thankful thoughts, and will become a cherished keepsake for years to come.
3. Create a 'Thankful Tree'
Gather a handful of long twigs and sticks from your yard. Put them inside a mason jar. You can dress your jar up with a bow or piece of twine, or simply leave as is. Each day, have your kids write down something they are thankful for on a paper leaf. Tape or pin the leaves to your sticks, creating a “thankful tree.” Not only will your kids get an extra dose of writing, you’ll have an adorable centerpiece and fall decoration for your home. Creating a "thankful garland" is another pretty take on this idea.
4. Start a Gratitude Journal
During a very painful time in my life, a gratitude journal changed everything for me. Will it be as earth-shattering for your child? Probably not. However, helping our kids shift their thinking towards the things they have instead of the things they don’t can have a life-long effect. Find out more about how keeping a gratitude journal can boost your child's happiness — and how to get started.
A simple lined notebook is all you need to create a gratitude journal for your child. Encourage your child to jot down several things each day (or each week depending on age of child) that she is thankful for. Then, when your child is having a rough day, encourage her to read back through their list. Kids may also enjoy filling out this "I'm Thankful for..." printable minibook.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!