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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When our kids or teens are struggling, it can be hard to know what they need. It can also be hard for them to say. It can be this way for all of us - we don't always know what we need from the people around us. It might be space, or distraction, or silence, or maybe acknowledging and being there is enough. Sometimes we might need to know that the people we love aren't taking our need for space, or our confusion or anger or sadness personally, and that they are still there within reach.
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What can be easier is thinking about what other people might need. Asking this when they are calm can invite a different perspective and can give you some insight into what they need to hear when they are going through similar. Don't worry if you just get a shrug, or a disheartened, 'I don't know'. They don't need to know, and neither do we. The question in itself might be enough to open a new way through any sense of 'stuckness' or helplessness they might be feeling.
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Give them space to talk but you don’t need to fix anything. You’ll want to, but the answers are in them, not us. Sometimes the answer will be to feel it out, or push for change, or feel the futility of it all so the feeling can let go, knowing it’s done it’s job - it’s recruited support, or raised awareness that something isn’t right.

Sometimes the feelings might be seismic but the words might be gone for a while. That’s okay too. Do they want to start with whatever words are there? Or talk about something else? Or go for a walk with you? Watch a movie with you? Or do a spontaneous, unnecessary drive thru with you just because you can - no words, no need to explain - just you and them and car music for the next 20 minutes. 

The more you can validate what they’re feeling (maybe, ‘Today was big for you wasn’t it’) and give them space to feel, the more they can feel the feeling, understand the need that’s fuelling it, and experiment with ways to deal with it. Sometimes, ‘dealing with it’ might mean acknowledging that there is something that feels big or important and a little out of reach right now, and feeling the fullness and futility of that. 

Part of building resilience is recognising that some days are rubbish, and that sometimes those days last for longer than they should, but we get through. First we feel floored, then we feel stuck, then we shift because the only choices we have we have are to stay down or move, even when moving hurts. Then, eventually we adjust - either ourselves, the problem, or to a new ‘is’. But the learning comes from experience.

I wish our kids never felt pain, but we don’t get to decide that. We don’t get to decide how our children grow, but we do get to decide how much space and support we give them for this growth. We can love them through it but we can’t love them out of it. I wish we could but we can’t.

So instead of feeling the need to silence their pain, make space for it. In the end we have no choice. Sometimes all the love in the world won’t be enough to put the wrong things right, but it can help them feel held while they move through the pain enough to find their out breath, and the strength that comes with that.♥️
Speaking to the courage that is coming to life inside them helps to bring it close enough for them to touch, and to imagine, and to step into, even if doesn’t feel real for them yet. It will become them soon enough but until then, we can help them see what we see - a brave, strong, flight-ready child who just might not realise it yet. ‘I know how brave you are.’ ‘I love that you make hard decisions sometimes, even when it would be easier to do the other thing.’ ‘You might not feel brave, but I know what it means to you to be doing this. Trust me – you are one of the bravest people I know.’
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting #parentingtips #parentingadvice
So often, our children will look to us for signs of whether they are brave enough, strong enough, good enough. Let your belief in them be so big, that it spills out of you and over to them and forms the path between them and their mountain. And then, let them know that the outcome doesn't matter. What matters is that they believe in themselves enough to try. 

Their belief in themselves might take time to grow, and that's okay. In the meantime, let them know you believe in them enough for both of you. Try, ‘I know this feels big and I know you can do it. What is one small step you can take? I’m right here with you.’♥️
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 #neurodevelopment #positiveparenting #parenting #parenthood #neuronurtured #parentingtip #childdevelopment #braindevelopment #mindfulparenting
Anxiety will tell our kiddos a deficiency story. It will focus them on what they can't do and turn them away from what they can. We know they are braver, stronger, and more powerful than they could ever think they are. We know that for certain because we’ve seen it before. We’ve seen them so held by anxiety, and we’ve seen them move through - not every time but enough times to know that they can. Even when those steps through are small and awkward and uncertain, they are brave. Because that’s how courage works. It’s fragile and strong, uncertain and powerful. We know that that about courage and we know that about them. 

Our job as their important adults is to give them the experiences that will help them know it too. This doesn't have to happen in big leaps. Little steps are enough, as long as they are forward. 

When their anxiety has them focused on what they can't do, focus them on what they can. By doing this, we are aligning with their capacity for brave, and bringing it into the light. 

Anxiety will have them believing that there are only two options - all or nothing; to do or not to do. So let's introduce a third. Let's invite them into the grey. This is where brave, bold beautiful things are built, one tiny step at a time. So what does this look like? It looks like one tiny step at a time. The steps can be so small at first - it doesn't matter how big they are, as long as they are forward. 
If they can't stay for the whole of camp, how much can they stay for?
If they can't do the whole swimming lesson on their own, how much can they do?
If they can't sleep all night in their own bed, how long can they sleep there for?
If they can't do the exam on their own, what can they do?
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When we do this, we align with their brave, and gently help it rise, little bit, by little bit. We give them the experiences they need to know that even when they feel anxious, they can do brave, and even when they feel fragile they are powerful.

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