Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday among families. Every year we set aside a whole day to entertain our loved ones with a lavish family feast of traditional foods such as turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. It is also an opportunity to count our blessings and teach our kids about gratitude while expressing thanks. When children are very young, it’s easy to remind them to say simple words such as “Thank you”. But as kids grow older, the challenge grows even deeper to develop a thankful heart. Having a thankful heart helps children recognize the blessings we have each and every day.
So how can we help develop a thankful heart in our children?
The easiest and most effective way to teach our children gratitude is to model it ourselves and let them hear about the things we are thankful for. “I am so grateful for this beautiful day so that we can go to the park and spend time together as a family.”
On Thanksgiving Day, go around the table at dinner and have each family member name something they are thankful for. When children acknowledge the blessings they have in their lives, they will begin to take note and appreciate them.
Families who do service projects together also tend to appreciate what they have more. When children see that some are less fortunate, they will develop a desire to help others and make a difference. Not only do they become more aware of others in their own lives, but they are more likely to give of their own time and gifts for a lifetime.
Simply Say Thank You
When your child receives gifts this holiday season, encourage them to write a thank you note instead of sending an emotionless “thank you” text. This is a great way to provide kids the opportunity to express their creative gratitude in an impersonal digital culture. And, the recipient will also be blessed knowing that they took the time to write it.
Just remember, we don’t have to eat turkey every day to be thankful for the blessings that surround us all year. And we don’t have to wait for Thanksgiving each year to help teach our children how to be thankful!
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
― Maya Angelou