We posed this difficult question to some of our RCM writers and they had some great responses!
How do you teach thankfulness? What do you do to instill a sense of gratitude to your children, and how do you incorporate it into your family’s Thanksgiving traditions?
“Mine are still pretty little so I try my best to model the behavior I want to see in them. Saying Thank You and really meaning it. It becomes almost rote but that’s fine with me. I’ve also noticed a tendency in my oldest (now 6) to be completely unaware of her privilege assuming that everyone around her has the same access to creature comforts she takes for granted. When that happens I do my best to point out in an age-appropriate way that there are plenty of kids, including children she likely plays with every day at school, who have to worry about food and clean clothes and don’t have the luxury of complaining about how much time they get on the iPad.”
“Every year, at Thanksgiving, we talk about my children’s birth and the story of how they got here (as it is always near their birthday and sometimes on their birthday). We always spend a good part of Thanksgiving with my best friend and her extended family so that my children can learn about thankfulness for all of the people and love in this world, not just the folks we see daily.” – Christa
My daughter is still so little, but we had a big scare this year and literally could have lost her. We talk about being thankful for those we love instead of things we have, but try not to focus on the scary thing that happened. We’ve made the craft in the past with thankful leaves and a turkey where each tail feather is something the child is thankful for. I know that this year, I’m especially thankful to have my baby.
Each year, at the Thanksgiving table, we remember & count our blessings. Each family member has the opportunity to reflect and share what they are truly thankful for; declaring praise to the One who has blessed us and encouraging those around us that they are loved.
My extended family is pretty big (my mom has 4 brothers and my dad has 10 brothers and sisters), so on Thanksgiving, there is usually one person on each of my parents’ side of the family who hosts a big dinner. Not to mention, Gabby and I also have a meal of some sort with my parents where we all go around the table and say what we’re thankful for. At the end of the day, I always try to remind Gabby of how blessed we are to have so may people in our lives who love us and with whom we can share the holiday. Last year, we took it a step further and decided to try and remember to give thanks everyday, so we pick one thing each morning on the way to school or while we’re in the car rider line that we’re grateful for. – Taralyn
My kids are still pretty young – 2 and 3 – so the concept of thankfulness is still a little over their heads, but we spend a lot of time talking in age-appropriate ways about how we need to be thankful for the things that we have. On a day-to-day basis, we try to instill an attitude of appreciativeness and respect for both the people we love and the things we are lucky enough to own. Training them to take good care of our toys, our house and our relationships is super important to us (and that goes hand-in-hand with our insistence that they use good manners at all times). Thanksgiving will be no exception – we will wonder in amazement at how much amazing food we have, and how happy we are to be with our beloved family and friends. – Shannon
Every year we make a Gratitude Tree for our kitchen table. Each leaf lists something my boys are thankful for. Just taking an afternoon to work on this as a family helps create the opportunity for discussing our blessings.
Stephenie has worked with and around books and authors for over 12 years, both at retail booksellers and public libraries. She is a rare Huntsville native, mother of two high-energy teens and two ridiculous dogs, spouse of one incredible guy, and eerily addicted to community volunteering. When she's not being the Executive Editor for RCM she likes to stalk her favorite authors online, cook with way too much butter, and conduct freelance marketing and SMM work.