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Teaching Children To Be Thankful For Their Blessings

| November 04, 2019

By Kristi De Rycke, Registered Assistant

It is a tradition in our family to go around the room on Thanksgiving Day and say one thing that we are each thankful for.  It was always pretty easy for the adults in the room to find several things in their lives that they were grateful for that year.  My daughter was around 6 or 7 and looked away from staring at the delicious food long enough to ask “What should I say?"  I whispered how about saying you are glad that you have the best Mom in the whole wide world.  She was too quick to respond “Ummm, I don’t think so”.  The truth is that she has so many things to appreciate compared to many children around the world.  How as a parent do I help her to learn to be thankful?

A work friend of mine had one of the best ideas that that I have ever heard.  Their family puts up the Christmas tree at the beginning of November without the bulbs.  They sit down together and make a pile of hand turkeys.  You know, the ones where you trace your hand and cut them out.  The kids draw on the thumb outline to make the head and the other 4 fingers are the feathers.  They color and design their turkeys but leave the bodies of the turkey open.  Then throughout the month they all write various things they are thankful for on each turkey and hang them on the tree. By November 30th the tree is full of things they are all thankful for and the tree is up and ready to decorate for Christmas.

How do we get our kids in the right mind frame to be thankful? Here are some of the many books that we can read to our kids:

  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  As he was one of my personal childhood favorites, I was excited to see one of his books in my daughter’s book bag on library day.
  • Just So Thankful by Mercer Mayer
  • Bear Says Thanks by Karma Wilson
  • The Berenstain Bears Thanksgiving Blessings by Mike Berenstain
  • Thank You, God, for Blessing Me by Max Lucado
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss
  • Llama Llama Gives Thanks by Anna Dewdney

Check out your local library for kid's books on being thankful and then start the activities. Here are some of my favorite ideas.

  1. Decorate a thankful jar or ice cream bucket. Put slips of paper near it so people can fill the bucket with things they are thankful for.
  2. Hang a poster board or corkboard. Have the family write things, cut pictures out or make pictures and paste to board.
  3. While driving your kids to school or their next activity, play the alphabet game in a different way. Have them say something they are thankful for starting with each letter.
  4. Play the game goldfish or memory and every time anyone gets a match, they say something they are grateful for.
  5. Chalk the walk and draw pictures of things you are grateful for so your Thanksgiving guests can see them on the way in.
  6. Put paper “placemats” down at each table setting with the heading I am thankful for… and a few crayons. Everyone can decorate their own place setting. 
  7. Cut strips of paper for a chain. Family members can write things on slips of paper and add to the chain any time during the month. See how long it gets before Thanksgiving Day. 
  8. Try one of the many printable gratitude games on the internet.
  9. Have your child make “I appreciate you because…” cards and hand them out to friends, family and teachers or put in front of person’s spot at the table.
  10. Start a gratitude book. Have each member of the family or guests fill out a list of things they are grateful for. Have them sign and date it. Save them all in a binder. 

I am looking forward to trying some of these this year! Maybe the next time my daughter has to come up with something she is thankful for it will be "Because I have the best Mom in the whole world." Well a mother can always hope :)