Thankfulness Family Activities to Encourage Gratitude
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, you may be taking this time to prepare the house for guests, donate to your local food pantry, or nail down that perfect cranberry sauce recipe.
You also might consider revisiting the topic of thankfulness with your family. After all, experts have found that grateful children consistently reap the benefits. They report:
- Happier lives
- Better friendships
- Higher GPAs
- Less materialism
- Less envy and depression
And kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from thankfulness. A thankful child sets the stage for a happy, balanced adult. Having gratitude later in life has many physical, social, and even psychological benefits, such as an overall decrease in feeling envy, frustration, resentment, and regret.
While the research certainly looks bright, many parents wonder how to raise a grateful child in a social climate obsessed with fame, status, and wealth. That’s why holidays such as Thanksgiving can be a great time to begin traditions, offer family support, and align kids to values that matter.
If you’ve made being thankful a goal for your family this holiday, these thankfulness activities will help jump-start your gratitude habits this season and beyond.
24 Days of Thankfulness
This November, teaching thankfulness starts at home. Cultivate gratitude in your family and watch how a thankful mind-set transforms attitudes, manners, and overall happiness!
To get started with your gratitude challenge, ask all family members to write down something they are thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. Designate a basket or a large mason jar to collect submissions all month. Place the jar in a well-trafficked area of the home, such as the kitchen. You can even label it “Gratitude Jar: What Are You Thankful for Today?”
Make sure you have scraps of paper and a pencil nearby for your family to record thankful moments. Once family members begin to add things they’re thankful for, the Gratitude Jar will fill up fast!
During Thanksgiving dinner, share the topics your family has collected all month. Pass the jar around and let everyone read aloud a thankfulness submission. Take some time to reflect on each moment of gratitude. As a bonus, see if your family can guess who wrote each entry!
Be sure to thank your children for expressing their feelings. The more kids witness parents, guardians, and other adults sharing sincere thanks, the more they will want to do the same.
Everyday Ways to Teach Gratitude
Keep gratitude alive in your household long after the Thanksgiving turkey is gone. Since gratitude starts with knowing who and what leaves a positive mark on our lives, ensure your kids take it to the next level with these tips and activities for year-round thankfulness:
- Keep a journal.
At night after meals and homework, connect with your children by having them journal about their day. They can start with sharing good or bad things, how they felt, and why they have gratitude now. Encourage them to use first person statements, such as “I felt happy when…” or “I appreciate…,” to help them take ownership of their gratitude.
For more ideas to get you started, visit our blog post, “Gratitude Journal Prompts and Writing Worksheets for Thanksgiving.”
- Make volunteering a hobby.
If your children have a passion for animals, the environment, or another particular cause, give them the chance to foster those feelings. Organizing or participating in events that help the less fortunate can reveal the inherent beauty in our lives.
- Practice mealtime mindfulness.
Remove toys, TV shows, and electronics from the dinner table. When we focus on the food we’re eating, we’re better able to use all of our senses to enjoy a meal.
Take this opportunity to talk with your children about where food comes from and all the hard work that goes into the food on their plates. Discussions about soil, water sustainability, gardening, and preparing a meal can greatly increase a child’s budding appreciation for food.
Parents are in a unique position to be good role models, call out and reinforce positive behavior, and nurture kindness. By practicing mindfulness and compassion every day, your family will continually grow and learn from each other.
What Thanksgiving activities will you be doing with your children this year? How do your family members appreciate the beauty around them? Let us know your methods for turning attitude into gratitude in the comments below!