Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. With that celebration of what we already have in our rearview mirror and the holiday season straight ahead, it’s easy to lose focus on what really matters. Banner ads, TV commercials, and Instagram posts are ever-present reminders that we need more, more, more. Kids are especially susceptible to these influences and have to be taught how to practice thankfulness.
Forbes.com has compiled a list of seven scientifically-proven benefits of gratitude here including:
- Grateful people have fewer physical aches and pains
- Gratitude increases happiness and decreases depression
- Gratitude improves self-esteem
- Grateful people sleep better
Wait…grateful people sleep better? We might as well end it there. Honestly, what wouldn’t you do to help your kid sleep better? Focusing on gratitude starts at home, so we’ve put together some tips on raising a grateful child.
- Say “Thank You” – Sure, you make sure your child says those two magic words, but are you reciprocating? Try to focus on every single thing they’re doing right- finishing dinner, giving their sibling a hug, washing their hands without being reminded, and thank them for it.
- Practice Thanksgiving- Don’t always wait for the fourth Thursday in November to go around the dinner table and say what you’re grateful for. Try to do this every night. As an added benefit, this is a great way for your family members to keep up with each other’s day to day highs and lows.
- Distinguish Wants From Needs- Remind your child that she or he needs food, water, and shelter and not the latest LEGO set or Star Wars toy.
- Take Stock of What You Have- Help your kids to acknowledge the items they already have and remind them where they came from. Those toys in the chest didn’t appear on their own, so point out which ones were gifts and from whom.
- Say “No”- Don’t give in to each and every request. Save a treat at the end of a grocery shopping trip for the times when they don’t grab items off the shelf or practice how loud they can scream in the frozen food aisle. Let them know that their birthday or holiday wish list will be taken into consideration but not necessarily entirely fulfilled.
- Get Everyone on the Same Page- Let’s face it- Grandparents and other relatives love to spoil. But try to steer them towards spoiling your children with love, attention, and special memories instead of material goods. And always make sure your children always say thank you for everything they receive.
- Reinforce Gratitude With Books- Zerotothree.org has put together this list of books focused on thankfulness for children aged 12 to 36-months:
- Biscuit Is Thankful by Alyssa Satin Capucilli and Pat Schories
- Little Critter: Just So Thankful by Mercer Mayer
- Feeling Thankful by Shelly Rotner
- Thanksgiving Is for Giving Thanks by Margaret Sutherland
- I’m Thankful Each Day by P.K. Hallninan
- Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message by Jake Swamp
- All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan
- Write Thank You Notes- Not thank you e-mails, text, tweets, or Snapchats. Actual cards. Actual pens. Your child is probably already used to sending out a stack of cards after the holidays or their birthday, but encourage them to also send end-of-the-year thank you notes to teachers and coaches. Get them in the habit of thanking friends for hosting them for sleepovers. Keep a big stack of cards on hand and you’ll surprise yourself with how many occasions you’ll find to pick one up.
- Give Back- Involve your children in charitable acts. We’ll have a blog post later this month with tips on how to do this in your community, during the holidays and all year long.
We hope this helps this helps just in time for the Holidays! See how you can help your family give back for the Holidays here.