Some parents may reach out this time of year to teach their children to be thankful knowing that being thankful is a year-round activity. But, Thanksgiving is a good time to kick-off a time for learning and practicing thankfulness that will last beyond the holiday season.
To improve an attitude of gratitude:
Give a thankful talk. On Thanksgiving, before the meal, have an adult stand and name things for which he or she is grateful. This should be someone who is comfortable sharing and to whom the children look up. To make an impression on all, the speaker could mention the first name of each person present and express thankfulness for that person.
Create a thankful paper chain. This is a good activity for children and adults may join in as well. Have ready several sheets of colored construction paper, scissors, markers and a stapler. Have those who participate write or draw one thing they’re thankful for on a 1-inch by 11-inch paper strip. Encourage them to write as many things as they like using different colored strips of paper. Loop and staple together the strips to create a chain. The chain can be hung in the dining or family room.
Plan a simple, family service event. Nothing teaches people, both young and old, how to be grateful faster than helping others. The organization, Doing Good Together, focuses on simple ways families can volunteer together. The organizations email newsletter includes simple family volunteer activities that families can try. www.ehow.com/how_2123674_teach-children-gratitude.html
Make a grateful list. Get the family together and have an “I’m grateful for …” brainstorming session. List everything for which family members are grateful. Creating a list will remind family members of things easily taken for granted.
Play the “popcorn thanks” game. Around the dinner table, focus on one person at a time having the others name things they appreciate about this person. Make it a popcorn thanks where people spontaneously “pop out” what they have to say. There’s no limit to the amount of thanks one person can give. Things might get a bit rowdy when the children begin to physically “pop up” each time they contribute. Another option is to play the “one-word thanks” game. Each family member uses only one adjective to describe the featured person.
Make it a family value to write thank-you notes. Write a thank-you note when receiving a gift. Keep thank-you notes on hand along with stamps to make it easy to do.
Spread the spirit of thankfulness by sending friends, family and colleagues a Thanksgiving e-card. Thank them for being a blessing.