Posted on Nov 13th 2020
The Holiday Season is finally upon us, with Thanksgiving just around the corner. Warmer weather, cozy nights indoors and the sweet smell of fall spices invite holiday cheer. As we gather close to family members, it's important to remember that these feelings of gratitude and love shouldn't be solely reserved for this time of year. Practicing gratitude daily has scientifically proven benefits, including enhanced health, better sleep, and improved self-esteem. Gratitude is a trait of well-balanced, happy individuals, so teaching children how to practice gratitude everyday from an early age is important. We've written down some easy gratitude practices that you and your family can apply to both daily life and the holiday season.
Daily Gratitude Discussions
We're often told to "stop and smell the flowers," and we just as often forget to do so in the hectic juggling of kids, work and household chores. Creating a daily family gratitude discussion time can reinforce this important practice. Teach your children how to pause throughout the day and pay attention to the world around them - their family, friends, home and nature. Pick a time of the day, morning or evening, and have every family member share something that occurred during their day that they are grateful for. This is also an easy way to teach your children how to appreciate the big and little things in life - remind them that having breakfast at home and a warm bed in the evening is something to be thankful for! As you continue this practice with your family, your children will begin to understand that life is full of wonderful moments.
A great way to reinforce daily gratitude is by asking each family member to keep a gratitude journal. This practice is better suited to older children and is a good way to keep gratitude a priority as younger children outgrow the daily gratitude discussions. A simple note or list of appreciation for the day's occurrences is all that is needed for nightly gratitude journal entries. Once a week, ask family members to share their top moments of gratitude in the past week by reading out loud from their journal.
Finding Apprecitation for Challenges
Another important lesson to start teaching your children from an early age is the appreciation of life's challenges. While it is easy to be grateful for family, friends and fun, most of us struggle in finding appreciation for tough times. It is these challenges, however, that help us grow into strong individuals. You can teach your children this important life lesson with simple things, like a tough homework assignment, the importance of sharing with siblings, and the responsibility of caring for pets. These small lessons will translate into appreciation for more difficult challenges that occur later in life. With a heart full of gratitude, your little ones will grow into strong, happy adults!
Acts of Giving
A great way to get the entire family involved in gratitude practices is volunteering. While verbally and mentally expressing gratitude is important, acts of community giving help spread gratitude in a big way. Teaching your children the importance of giving back reinforces gratitude as they will be empowered by helping those in need. Volunteering fosters empathy, teaches community responsibility and is valuable experience in teamwork.
Holiday Gratitude Jar
A great way to bring daily gratitude practices into the spotlight of the holiday season is a Gratitude Jar. Decorate an oversized Mason jar with leaves, glitter and other fall flair and place it as the Thanksgiving table centerpiece with a pen and strips of paper nearby. As guests arrive, have them write down one thing they were grateful in the past year, big or small, and place it in the jar. After dinner, pass the jar around and have each guest pull out a paper and read the gratitude note. This fun holiday activity works for big, extended family parties and small immediate family dinners.