November 1st is coming up, and it marks the start of what many celebrate as the month of giving thanks. All across social media, you will find people of all ages sharing their 30 Days of Gratitude and 30 Days of Thanks. The idea centers around Thanksgiving, and sharing what you are grateful for each day.
For me, Thanksgiving truly is a time to reflect on, and to give thanks for, life’s bountiful gifts. Along with empathy, understanding the importance of expressing gratitude is something that you can actually teach your child, and this month of giving thanks and Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to start.
Here are some tips to help you foster gratitude in your child.
what you want to see. Make a point to express gratitude in the presence of
your child. Let your child hear you saying “Thank you!” to the person who
holds open the door for you at the post office, and the grocery store
checker. Talk about how grateful you are for clear skies on your morning
walk together. Take your child with you to drop off a thank you gift to
your friend. The more your child sees gratitude built into your life, the
more likely he will be to incorporate it intrinsically into his own daily
your child a gratitude journal. You can purchase a simple lined journal,
or even make one from a stack of stapled blank paper. Inscribe a special
message from you to your child in the inside cover, and help your child
get into the practice of writing one to five things that he is grateful
for each day. These can be simple one-word answers or full sentences, and
be sure your child knows that there are no wrong answers.
aside time to write in your gratitude journals together. While you are
having your morning tea and your child is enjoying a healthy breakfast,
sit down at the kitchen table together and simultaneously write in your
gratitude journals. He will see the importance you place in giving thanks
each day, and he will start to have the same respect and understanding of
gratitude in his own life.
about it. I encourage each family to have family meetings once a week,
using my empathic process. Choose a neutral space such
as the kitchen, the heart of the home where alchemy happens, and allow
each member to have a turn discussing specific events or concerns that
week, without judgment. This is also a good time to express gratitude;
ending the meeting by acknowledging something or someone to be thankful
for helps everyone leave on a positive note, and also helps to further
instill a sense of gratitude in your child.
your child find deeper values and goals. Help your child think about the
world around him, and ask him from time to time what he thinks is truly
important in life. Encourage him to help others, even in the smallest of
ways, and to find value in non-materialistic items. Teaching him to value
people and goals that go beyond wealth or fame helps him feel a sense of
gratitude for the friendships and community in his life.
In life, empathy, kindness, and gratitude go hand in hand. The earlier you help teach your child to have these qualities, the more it will become second nature to his life. Fostering a deep sense of gratitude early on can help give your child a wonderful perspective on life, one that includes giving thanks well beyond the Thanksgiving holiday.
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