My Facebook friends have been writing great posts about the things they’re grateful for. I thought I’d share this article I wrote for Constant Content about fun ways to teach our kids about gratitude.
Thanksgiving is all about being grateful for what we have. In today’s culture of excess, however, it’s easy for kids to develop a sense of entitlement rather than gratitude. But trying to shame them into feeling guilty about those who have less rarely works. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun ways to teach your kids to be grateful.
Recap the best part of the day
Make it a dinnertime ritual to have each family member describe the best part of the day. You don’t have to use the words “thankful” or “gratitude.” Simply encouraging your children to think about the things that made them happy that day teaches them to value even the small things in life.
Make a Thanksgiving version of an Advent calendar
Swipe an idea from the traditional Advent calendar and count down the days to Thanksgiving with thoughts of gratitude. This can be as simple as having the kids write things on small slips of paper and attaching one to each square of a regular calendar. If you’re feeling crafty, you can make an elaborate calendar with a compartment for each day. Every morning, remove the slip for that day, and read it as a family.
Say it with pictures
Tell your kids they’re going to pretend to be photojournalists. Their assignment is to walk through the house and yard taking pictures of things that make them happy. When they’re finished, make a slideshow you can watch on your computer, and ask the kids to tell the stories behind their pictures. If you’re feeling really creative, use your computer to make a collage out of the pictures, and have it made into placemats for your Thanksgiving table.
Say it with music
If you have budding Broadway stars – or American Idol contestants – in your family, have them compose a song, rap, or skit about the things they’re grateful for. Each child can have a part, with older children helping younger siblings. And there’s a fail-proof strategy for overcoming reluctance: mom and dad have to do it, too.
Help each child come up with a positive “fact” about your family, like “I always feel safe and happy here.” Then have them draw or paint a picture illustrating that fact. Hang the pictures on the refrigerator, and replenish them regularly!
Today’s kids have so much that it’s easy for them to take it for granted and to expect the good things in life to just keep coming. Parents have the right idea when they try to teach their children to be grateful, but it doesn’t take a lecture on, “There are kids all over the world who would love to eat your dinner…”. With a little creativity, you can disguise a lesson on gratitude as an activity that’s so fun they’ll be asking you to do it over and over.