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Practicing Gratitude: Ideas for Teaching Kids to Be Thankful

November 1st, 2015

Giving Thanks for Thankful Children

‘Tis the season to be thankful — for friends, family and fabulous feasts — but Thanksgiving is more than an occasion to eat, drink and be merry. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take stock and be grateful for all that we have. You can share the spirit of the season with your children by helping them to appreciate all that they have, too. Try one of these four ideas to start:

  • Ask your children to help you create a Thanksgiving donation package, filled with canned foods and other holiday foods (include a fresh or frozen turkey, if possible!), to donate to a local food bank or pantry for distribution to a needy family. They can decorate the basket or box with pretty pictures and ribbons, and accompany you to the donation site.
  • The next time you bake holiday cookies, put some aside to bring to a senior center during the holidays. Older folks would appreciate the treats and the company. Explain to your kids that many seniors don’t have regular visits from their friends or family, so your children’s bright smiles and holiday enthusiasm will be most welcome. (Be sure to call ahead to ask permission to visit and to learn from the staff what cookie varieties are most appropriate).
  • Encourage your children to collect coats, blankets, mittens, and hats for those in need. They can help you sort through outgrown items in their closets (and yours!), and you may want to enlist the aid of a teacher to make it a class project. Find a partner organization that can distribute these items to those in need, and talk honestly with your children about how some families need the help of others, even for essentials, like warm clothing.
  • Have a neighbor in need? Your children can shovel someone’s walkway after a storm or walk a dog for someone who needs a little assistance. Explain to your children that good deeds don’t need payment – help them develop a sense of accomplishment without the need for reward.

We could all use lessons in being thankful, so don’t just talk about the spirit of giving this time of year. Show your children that you, too, should be more thankful for what you have, and share that gratitude with others!