Attitude of Gratitude: Raising Thankful Kids.

Image result for thanksgivingAs we enter the winter holiday rush, it’s a time for many families to reflect on all the good fortune they have. But not all kids are naturally programmed to understand that “more!” shouldn’t be their life’s motto. How do we make sure our kids are bringing their attitude of gratitude into this season of abundance?

Experts say that instilling behaviors of thankfulness year round is the most important thing we can do. Always prompting kids to thank people in their lives, and it’s also vital to take time to thank our kids when they do something great. Setting expectations about consumption and shopping is a great way to teach kids that things aren’t just always handed to them, but that such gifts are special and deserve a special thanks.

A special tradition might be to start a gratitude jar over Thanksgiving break. Here are some ideas for making that happen: a how to for making the jar itself; another, more basic idea for creating the jar and set-up; a reflection on using a gratitude jar over the year; some ideas on how to get your kids excited about keeping a gratitude jar for the long term;

Outside the family unit, taking time to thank those who serve in all capacities. Thanking those in our Armed Forces, teachers, public servants, the pastry chef at their favorite bakery, bus drivers, the Target cashier, librarians, the UPS delivery person, a babysitter…whoever makes an impact in your family’s life. It would be a great Thanksgiving week activity to draw pictures or write notes to thank these special people who make your kid’s life better, and then hand them out during the winter holiday season.

You can also make volunteering and donating both time and your material resources a family affair. Seeing the importance of giving back to our community helps kids understand gratitude beyond the personal, and allows them to start being grateful for chance to do for others. RES families already know that we are finishing up our PTA Turkey Drive this week — for the next THREE DAYS your child can bring in a check (perhaps with some of their allowance contributed towards the effort) made​ ​payable​ ​to​ ​RES​ ​PTA,​ ​with the memo noted as, “​Thanksgiving​ ​Drive.” It should be in an envelope c/o L. Micola in ​Mrs.​ ​Welp’s​ ​room. The goal is to ensure every family in Redding can enjoy a hearty Thanksgiving meal.

In addition to the PTA Turkey Drive, your child’s allowance provides a great learning opportunity about gratitude and sharing what we have our whole lives. You can either make or buy a bank that divides a child’s allowance into three parts, and your child can help research and choose charities to which they can donate their “give” money. Ask your child what she’s grateful for, and ask her what she’d like to help others achieve or do. It’s a great chance to talk about why we give and what our values are. You might be surprised by you kids’ responses!

For hands-on volunteer activities, think about reaching out to DAWS, the Redding Food Pantry or other charities important to your family, and ask how your child can actively support their mission. Whether it’s helping to run a winter coat drive, helping do laundry for those in need, walking dogs that need a home, helping refugees study English or serving meals to the hungry, there’s a lot kids can do! Here’s some other ideas for wider Fairfield County. Homeless shelters in the county are a great place to start in this cold season — just call and ask how you can help!

Looking for more ideas for a grateful life? Here’s some activities (including that gratitude jar again!) to try out this year! And watch out for our upcoming post focused on our Redding Food Pantry, coming soon, to learn all the ways your family can practice gratitude and share your bounty locally!

Getting Picture Perfect for your RES Fall Family Photo Day!

This Sunday is our annual RES PTA Photo Day fundraiser! An extremely talented local family photographer, Claudia Pacifico, is donating her entire sitting fee to help us pay for the many educational, enrichment and community-building programs we run each year. And friends of the RES PTA will have amazing photos, taken at the Redding Historical Society‘s historic, beautiful Lonetown Farm, with peak fall foliage in the background!

If you haven’t signed up already, you can do so through your account, or contact us via Facebook or email. If you can’t figure out how to sign up on MSA, just reach out and we’ll walk you through the two-step process.

If you HAVE signed up, you’re probably spending the next few days brainstorming ideas for great family outfits that will pop against the foliage. Here are some tips from our fabulous photographer’s blog. And here are some ideas from our BRAND NEW RES PTA Pinterest page! We have scoured Pinterest for the best advice on everything from makeup to posing to color combos!

What is your favorite tip for flattering family photos? We want to hear from you!

Transitions: Link Roundup!

Even though we haven’t yet had a full week of school, our kids have been in their new classrooms for 7 days already…how’s the transition going in your home? I’ve found myself turning to the experts more than once as we struggle to get into our routine. Here’s a roundup of links I’ve clipped for our household:

Preparing Your Child for the New School Year – AHA Parenting is a website my pediatrician recommended when my first child was born, and I’ve loved the down-to-earth advice about connecting with my kids and listening to them. While it’s a little late to “prepare” in mid-September, the advice about encouraging the bond between kids and their new teacher, as well as new kids in the classroom, is wonderful.

Back to School: Transitioning Your Family From Summer to School – PBS offers a whole host of excellent suggestions, with the suggestion to be sure to not let the change in routine and weather keep us inside and away from nature. Especially here in Redding, so many of our kids spend the summer outside in the woods being wonderfully wild and exploring. This is a great reminder to get back out there into our beautiful Redding open spaces. After reading this, I resolved to take my kids on an after-school walk with new friends at New Pond Farm! Share suggestions for making sure our busy kids are connected to Redding’s natural space in the comments!

Tips for Going Back to School – The American Autism Association offers a Back to School Guide (you can download it; it’s linked in this article) and this great summary of ideas on how to help kids with autism get back in the swing of things. The idea of creating a passport is a great tool for parents, kids and teachers!

Back to School: How to Get Your Kids Up in Time – One of the main back-to-school battles in our household revolves around bedtime. I hear the same from so many of my friends — we all enjoyed summer’s schedule flexibility where an extra game of checkers or a movie that started a bit late were no big deal. But now the kids are chafing at the earlier bedtimes and are waking up exhausted! This WebMD article gives some great (if not always easy to follow) advice for families struggling with a September full of sleepy kids! Does anyone else have any tips to share with the RES community? We’d love to hear from you here or on our Facebook page!