As 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!