Like so many other events throughout 2020, this holiday season will be filled with tough choices and changes for families.
The good news is that the holidays are also a time when gratitude is at the forefront and it has been proven that focusing on positive emotions and spending quality family time together can help kids and adults be resilient through tough times. Simply put, if we focus on the good things we have in our life, we will discover so much to be grateful for this year.
As adults we can recognize that there is always something to be grateful for, but children often forget all the things they already have that make them happy. Luckily, Thanksgiving offers a perfect opportunity to reflect as a family, and this period of staying at home provides plenty of time to help develop your child’s attitude of gratitude.
I asked Sandra Graham, our Director of Training at Kiddie Academy, for her best gratitude tips. Here are some ways she suggested to get your children started on practicing gratitude:
1. Start a gratitude notebook. Have your child write a note or draw a picture of something they’re thankful for each day. Ask your child to be specific and the more they pay attention to details, the more they’ll start to notice the positive things in their life.
2. Make a gratitude chain. This fun activity gets the whole family involved. Set up an area with precut construction paper strips, markers, and tape in your home. Ask family members to pause every time they walk by to jot down something they’re grateful for and then fasten it as a link on the chain.
3. Write or draw Thanksgiving cards. If your child is sad about not getting to see a family member or friend this holiday season, channeling it into writing or art can be soothing for them and a sweet surprise for the recipient.
4. Practice mindfulness. Live in the moment and be present in your surroundings. Stop, breathe and be grateful for everything in your world.
5. Make “thanks” calls. Sit down with your child and make a list of people who’ve done something nice for them lately. Then set aside time on Thanksgiving for your child to call and say thank you.
6. Send virtual care packages. Social distancing and self-quarantining means you can’t get together to hug but your child can send the next best thing: a bunch of photos and a funny video that will make someone smile.
7. Decorate the front yard with thank-you signs. From essential workers and healthcare heroes to teachers and neighbors, a lot of people deserve a special thank you. Get your child involved in drawing or painting signs to decorate your yard this Thanksgiving season.
8. Take gratitude walks. While you walk, look for the simple pleasures in the day, such as the clouds in the sky or the birds singing and express appreciation for them. Use this time to ask your kids what they are grateful for.
9. Try a twist on kindness rocks. Have your child paint rocks with images and messages that inspire gratitude. On Thanksgiving Day, take a walk to work off that turkey and set the rocks in special places to surprise others on their walk.
10. Find a way to give back. Talk to your child about the causes that matter to them, and the people or things in the community that they’d like to help. Reach out to organizations to see how you can give back, whether that’s donating or volunteering in a way that’s safe during COVID-19.
Yes, this pandemic holiday season may have its challenges but with some resilience and a grateful attitude, your family can still put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving. You maybe even create a new gratitude habit that will help your child grow up seeing the sunny side of life.