Last year we created a “Tree of Thanks”. We drew a tree on a large piece of paper, cut out little colored leaves and left them around the Thanksgiving table. We filled them out during the meal, talked about them and taped them onto the tree. The craft helped reinforce the notion of being thankful and was a great way to keep the kids engaged during the meal.
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind around the holidays and throughout the year.
- Take stock. Sometimes we take things for granted and forget to notice the little mysteries that surround us. The intricate beauty of a leaf, the stars, a delicious meal or the chance to spend time together. Point these things out to your children. The more you notice and appreciate the world around you, the more your kids will too.
- Say thank you. Thank your kids when they do something nice. Thank other adults, even for the little things. Modeling the behavior will help kids to do it more themselves.
- Give thanks. Whether you’re religious or not, before or during any meal, ask them what they are thankful for. Make it a daily ritual. It will not only re-enforce the idea of gratitude, but it will give you something to talk about and bring you closer together as a family.
- Grow your own food. You may not have room for a whole vegetable garden, but even one little plant can show your kids where food comes from and the effort behind growing and creating food. It will teach them to be more grateful for what they have and those who provide it. They also seem to enjoy eating food that they have grown, which can help point them towards healthier choices.
- Cook together. Children as young as 2 or 3 can start helping out in the kitchen. Start with simple tasks like washing vegetables and move up to more complicated mixing and chopping. When children help prepare the meal, they learn about nutrition, expand their palate and gain respect for the food they are eating. They will be amazed to find out what they are capable of in the kitchen.
- Serve others. Find ways that your children can help others. Volunteer at a soup kitchen together, donate a turkey for Thanksgiving, or donate money to an organization that helps feed families around the world. These are all great ways to teach your children about perspective and why it’s so important to be thankful for the food they eat.
Washington Post – Teaching kids to be grateful may have long-term benefits even though it’s not easy
WikiHow – Teach Kids to Be More Thankful People
Care.com – 8 Tips for Teaching Kids to be Thankkful
Just Mommies – Giving Thanks
The Better Mom – 10 Ways to Teach Your Children to be Thankful