Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving

Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Be Grateful This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a great time to promote important values such as generosity, kindness, solidarity and gratitude in your children. The problem is that children often want, want, want, with no accountability to feel grateful for what they receive.

I remember that two years ago my oldest daughter started throwing her toys around and stomping her feet because she was tired of them only one hour after opening her gifts. It made me realize that I really have to work on teaching my kids the value of being thankful even at young age. 

  1. Less is more.

    Having plenty of toys for my girls to break in a matter of minutes meant absolutely nothing to them. And although they were gifts, I explained to them about those who are less fortunate. During the course of the last couple of years I had my children give their unwanted toys to children in shelters. I talked to them about kids who never receive toys and many others who do not even have a home. Trust me, your children will fully understand how blessed they are when they see the unfortunate conditions other kids have to put up with. 

  2. Wants vs. needs

    A good lesson for younger children is to have them create a wish list of needs vs. wants. Does your child really need 15 to 20 toys for Christmas or birthday? As parents we are sometimes forced to buy everything we can grab out of the toy aisles but we need to reduce and control ourselves before we spoil our children. Have your child make a list of things they really want. Then go through the list, examining everything with your child, and discuss what they could actually use or need and what they can do without. A discussion like this will allow your kids to review the ‘ridiculous’ demands of what they want and open a constructive dialogue on the matter.

  3. Adopt a family.

    Maybe it is not in the budget, but think about adopting a family for Thanksgiving. Have your child choose the toys or clothes to give them. The private conversation about why you are doing it will leave a permanent impression on your kids and make them feel grateful that the circumstances of their lives are very different.

  4. Tasks for change.

    Young children do great job tasks. A task table keeps them on track and is a fun way to help organize and sort out their responsibilities. A great reward is to give them some change since having money means having the ability to buy things and children love to buy things. After having your child work hard to store up a lot of change, you have to choose a gift they want to buy and if they have not made enough money to buy it, explain how they have to continue to earn more money. After all, the hard work will pay out eventually and they will be very grateful when they finally receive their ‘prize’.

  5. Gratitude of a superhero.

    There is probably no child in the world who is not fascinated by the superheroes one way or the other. As a parent, I turned this phenomenon to my advantage, and, of course, my girls’ advantage. I explained to them that superheroes are not so different from the rest of us, and that they have a lot to be grateful for. Without their friends and circumstances that gave them superhuman skills, they would not be able to help others and that is the main thing they think about and appreciate in life. When you put this part of superheroes into the perspective for young kids, they can change and adjust their behavior to be more superhero like. With my girls, this reflected in their desire to help around the house, each other, and other kids more. A good fun could be a superhero party, with animators and costumes, so that your kids can really find themselves in this important role. I was thinking of organizing it after the Thanksgiving dinner this year. 

If you show appreciation in your daily life, your children are more likely to feel grateful, too. For example, give thanks to the children when they do their homework, thank your husband when he prepares dinner and thank your family and friends for being there. Do not complain about others or how you do not have everything you want. Point out the importance of enjoying the simple things in life like sunlight in the spring or flowers in your garden. Your kids would definitely pick this up.


About the Author: Tracey Clayton 

Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She loves cooking, baking, sewing, spending quality time with her daughters and she’s passionate for writing. She is contributor on High Style Life and her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” Find her on Facebook.

 

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One of our rituals was in the week before Christmas, we’d go shopping and each kiddo would choose a keepsake decoration for the tree. This would forever be their decoration. To make sure we’d remember who owned what (a year is a long time!) I wrote their name and year on the box. The idea is that when they leave home, they’ll have a collection of special decorations for their own tree, plump with throwbacks (‘Oh I remember when we bought this!).

Then of course there was Christmas morning. Santa would leave a note on the table and bootprints on the front path, which smelled remarkably like talcum powder. So magical the way the snow was under the boot and never melted, even in an Australian summer! But that’s the magic of Christmas, right?!

We often put so much pressure on ourselves to make Christmas magical. Rituals can make this easier. They get the special memories, you get to make the ‘magic’ without having to come up with something new and different each year.

It’s very likely that there will already be Christmas rituals happening in your family, even if you don’t realise it. Ask them what they remember most, or what they loved most about last Christmas, aside from the presents.

They might surprise you with things you’d completely forgotten about, or which at the time didn’t seem to be a biggie. It can be the simplest things. Maybe they loved the way they were allowed to have ice-cream with pancakes at breakfast last Christmas. (Ice-cream at breakfast?! Told you Christmas was magical!!). 

If it’s what they remember, and if it lights them up, let it become a ‘thing’. Maybe they loved the magic ‘neverending carrot’ sprinkles you put on the scrawny carrot you found in the vege drawer (remembering reindeer groceries can be so hard sometimes!)

You’d be surprised what they find special. It doesn’t have to be big to feel magical.

What are your Christmas rituals? Let’s share ideas in the comments.♥️
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There's no need to enter a code. The books and bundles are already marked with their special sale prices. You'll find them all there - plushies, books, bundles - doing shopping cartwheels, beside themselves excited about helping your young ones feel bigger than anxiety, and shimmy on to brave. 
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It can feel as though the only way to strengthen them against their anxiety is to make sure they have nothing to worry about, but when their worries are real this might not happen quickly. 

Instead, we need to focus on helping them know that even though those worries are there, they will be okay. ‘Not worrying’ isn’t the antidote to anxiety, trust is. This will start with trust in you and your belief that they will be okay, and trust in your reaction if things don’t go to plan. Eventually, as they grow this will expand into trust in themselves and their own capacity to find their way through challenges to a place of hope and strength. 
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Strong steady breathing will reverse the fight or flight physiology that causes nausea, butterflies, or sick or sore tummies during anxiety. BUT telling an anxious brain to take a strong steady breath will potentially make anxiety worse unless strong steady breathing feels familiar. Practising during calm times will make it familiar. 

During anxiety we’re dealing with their amygdala, and it wants short shallow breathing to conserve oxygen. It doesn’t want strong steady breathing and will work hard to resist this. 

An anxious brain is a busy brain and it will be less able to do anything unfamiliar. A few minutes of strong steady breathing each day will set up a strong neural pathway to make strong breathing more automatic and accessible during anxiety. 

In the meantime though, you can do it for them. This is the magic of co-regulation. When you do strong steady breathing during their anxiety, it will calm your nervous system which will eventually calm theirs. You will catch their anxiety, and this will feed into their anxiety. Your strong steady breathing is the circuit breaker. They will catch your anxiety, but they will also catch your calm. Don’t worry if this takes a few minutes (and maybe a few more after that). Anxious brains are strong, powerful, beautiful brains working hard to protect. Breathe and be with. This will open the way for that distressed young nervous system to find its way home. And you don’t need to do more than that.♥️
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Needs and behaviour can get tangled up and treated as one. When you can, separate the need from the behaviour. Give voice to the need - let it find a way to breathe - and redirect the behaviour. 

The need might always be clear, especially if it’s being smothered by angry shouting words. If we stifle the behaviour without acknowledging the need, the need stays hungry. Help usher it into the light by making it clear that you’re ready to receive it. Then wait. Wait for the big behaviour to ease, for bodies to calm, and angry voices to soften - but keep the way to you open. ‘You’re a great kid and I know you know that behaviour wasn’t okay. Talk to me about what’s happening for you.’

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