In the hustle and bustle of your everyday lives as the holidays approach, it’s normal to overlook the importance of practicing thankfulness with your children. However, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to help cultivate gratitude in your home and the lives of your children!
At its core, thankfulness is about kindness. Teaching children the importance of being kind to themselves and others, and modeling that behavior in the home, is instrumental to their development into good, helpful, and friendly adults later in life! Research shows that children who learn how to be kind early in life have a better sense of belonging with their peers and report higher rates of happiness and mental health overall. Practicing thankfulness is a great way to put kindness into action this season. Here’s a few ideas for you and your children:
Children often learn best by seeing and doing, and that’s why hands-on activities are a great way to engage with your child and promote gratitude. You could ask your child who in their life they’re grateful for, and make homemade cards, notes, or crafts to give to those people as a show of appreciation. Teachers, friends, or family members are a good place to start.
Engage in the Community
Around Thanksgiving, many families engage with their larger community and find new and fun ways to give back – make sure your children are part of this process! Donating old clothes together, baking treats to donate to local shelters, or volunteering as a family are all fantastic ways to help your child learn the importance of gratitude and giving back.
Moments of sitting in silence are usually few and far between with young children, but incorporating reflection, even at a young age, can help develop your child’s understanding of gratitude and thankfulness. Easy ways to incorporate reflection into your daily routine can be asking them what they’re thankful for that day at the dinner table, or encouraging your children to let their peers know when they appreciate something they did for them. These practices help children to take others’ feelings into account and express their own feelings in healthy and positive ways.
Children often learn by example and mirror the behaviors they see in their homes and those closest to them. That’s why modeling thankfulness can go great lengths in encouraging this type of behavior in your children! Acknowledge your child when you see them do something kind for someone else, and practice gratitude in front of your child when someone does something kind for you!
Gratefulness is a learned trait, but practicing gratitude in front of, and with, your child, helps to promote thankfulness in their everyday lives. No matter the age of your child, it’s never too early to highlight the importance of kindness towards, and appreciation for, the important people in their lives, as well as the community they live in!