Friday, November 1, 2013

Fostering Gratitude

In my line of work, we've turned the corner from getting fall programs under way to thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Similarly, many families are making a shift from focusing on new school routines and activity schedules to deciding where you'll be headed for each holiday, who will host the big meal, what food will be served, and when Christmas shopping will get done.

In addition to things like that, I think another thing many people are thinking about this time of year is how to foster a sense of gratitude in their kids and how to make giving back a part of their family's DNA.  With that in mind, here are a few ideas of how to do that in ways that are simple and fun.

Write Thank Yous- I may be old fashioned, but I am a stickler about thank you notes.  I think it is such an important thing to do.  And I think the way to do it is to actually write it out, by hand, they way people did ten years ago.  In my opinion, writing thank you cards is such a simple thing yet one that makes a big impact.  

If you have young kids, you could easily let them decorate a card with stickers or a drawing, and then write "Thank you for..." on it for them.  If you have older kids, even though they might make a stink at first, I really encourage you to make them write out a simple message by hand.  Not type one up on the computer and then paste it in.  Not send a text.  Not blow it off.  Because the fact of the matter is, if they learn the importance of taking time to give thanks now, it will have lifelong dividends.

Make a Gratitude Chain- This is a simple and yet engaging activity.  To start, cut strips of paper, the same way you would to make a chain that counts down to Christmas.  You can either write one thing that the family is thankful for on each strip right away, or have your family do this as an activity every night at supper or something.  However you decide to do it, connect the papers together to form a chain and hang it somewhere the whole family can see it.*

Make a Thanksgiving Family Tree- First, make a tree out of construction paper and attach it to the front door. Cut leaves out of colored pieces of paper and leave them by the front door along with a stack of pens. Whenever someone leaves or comes home, ask them to write down something they're grateful for on one of the leaves and add it to the tree.*

Highs and Lows and Thanks- As you sit around the dinner table or drive from one activity to the next, take the time to share highs and lows as a family- something great that happened that day and something not so great.  Then, share something or someone each person in the family is thankful for.  Maybe it will be "beach balls" and "Snow White" like Esme likes to say lately, but it might also be something you didn't lead to other answers and (further conversations) that you didn't expect. 

* The inspiration for these two activities can be found here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips