Encourage thankfulness: Part 1

Ways to encourage children to express thankfulness and appreciation

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Around the country, we’ll soon be picking up our turkeys, baking pies, chopping aromatic vegetables for stuffing, and setting our prettiest table.

Even still, it’s hard to forget that we’re about to careen around the corner and crash right into December—that most commercial wonderful time of the year.

Do you feel like you’re walking on the edge of a knife, trying to maintain a thankful spirit in your home during the season of the “gimmees”?

You can cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your children, and the days or weeks preceding Thanksgiving are a great time to start. When the kids begin squabbling, acting selfish, or expressing entitlement, encourage thankfulness! Help them do a 180 and refocus, using one of these activities as a springboard.

Thank You For…

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust

Writing a note of appreciation for a gift received seems obvious, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Who has made an impact on your children’s lives? Provide stationery and writing tools and have your kids think of deeper reasons they can express their thanks.

  • Dad. Thank him for making you feel safe and loved, for working hard for your family, for playing football in the yard, for showing you how to fix a flat on your bike, for teaching you about God, for playing Monopoly with you.
  • Mom. Thank her for being your teacher, for driving you to all your activities, for cooking tasty meals for your family, for showing you how to bake a chocolate cake, for helping you become kind and compassionate, for setting a good example.
  • Grandparents. Thank them for things you often take for granted, such as coming to your soccer games or school performances. Thank them for holding a special place in your life, for encouraging, supporting, and loving you.
  • Sunday school teacher. Thank her for caring about you, for teaching you about Jesus, for bringing donuts each week.
  • Newspaper deliverer or postman. Thank him for delivering your mail or paper every day, no matter how hot or cold or rainy or snowy. Thank him for being a dependable worker.
  • Pet. Thank your dog or cat for being faithful, friendly, loyal; for being a playmate; for providing companionship, entertainment, and smiles.

Encourage Thankfulness in Children

It’s Been Said

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Encourage your children to copy favorite quotes about gratitude and thanksgiving and pin them to a wall or bulletin board in their room. For starters, find gratitude quotes here and here. Then, have your kids try one of these ideas:

  • Copy each saying using neatest penmanship.
  • Write the quote on fancy paper using calligraphy or italic handwriting.
  • Type it on the computer, choose an appropriate font, enlarge the text to fill the page, and print it on pretty paper.

Count Your Blessings

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. ~Estonian Proverb

Mount a large sheet of posterboard on the wall of your kitchen or family room, and keep a jar of colored markers nearby. Encourage your children to write things they’re thankful for, no matter how small. Pre-writers can simply draw pictures on the posterboard.

Alternatively, make a stack of sticky notes available on which they can record their words of gratitude. Provide a centralized spot for these thankful thoughts, or simply let the kids pepper the house with notes.

. . . . .

Gratitude is an amazing thing. It’s good for our health and well-being; it helps us choose contentment over want, self-centeredness, and entitlement; and it makes us easier to please. We can indeed be purposeful about helping our kids ditch their “me” mentality and become more others-focused.

You can find more ideas at 30 Days of Gratitude. And check back tomorrow for Encourage Thankfulness: Part 2.

Kim_signature_short

Photos: Eren {sea + prairie) and Fern R, courtesy of Creative Commons.
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2 comments ↓

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