With Canadian Thanksgiving being celebrated this weekend, I want to know, how do you foster an attitude of gratitude with your kids? Not only on Thanksgiving but every day? The holiday is a perfect opportunity to bring thanks and gratitude to light and encourage conversations about how, why and for whom we are grateful. But let’s not forget, these are conversation starters and topics perfect for any day!
To get you started, here are some easy ways to help kids give thanks, this weekend and beyond!
Start a Thanksgiving Tradition
No surprise here - I am a huge fan of holiday traditions (this is why I created My Kindness Advent Calendar, after all!) I just love having something to look forward to as a family year over year, that kids look to with anticipation and remember with fondness over the years. When it comes to Thanksgiving, creating a simple tradition of giving thanks is an easy one.
Practicing kindness and gratitude doesn’t have to be complicated, but it can be deliberate. When I started hosting Thanksgiving dinners in University, I introduced a tradition of going around the table and having each guest share one thing they are thankful for. A simple tradition like this is enough to get kids thinking about gratitude and gives a chance for them to hear their elders role model gratitude and lead by example - one of the best ways to help kids learn.
What are your Thanksgiving traditions?
Play a Gratitude Game
If you need to up your gratitude game to really get the kids involved, try making your gratitude practice into a game. Have everyone around the table write down 3 things they’re grateful for. Put all the answers in a hat, then read them out loud and have all of your dinner guests guess at who’s answer is whose.
Or do a Gratitude Scavenger Hunt! Write a list of things to find that kids are grateful for (for example: in nature, that smells nice, a person, etc.) and have them find or draw pictures of each. Sign up for our newsletter to get a copy of the Gratitude Scavenger Hunt we’ll be doing this year!
Write Thank You Notes
This is one of my favourite ways to show gratitude, because saying thank you is always in season. I always have a stack of thank you notes on hand and recently purchased a “thanks a million” stamp because you can never say thank you enough, in personal life or in business. Getting your kids in the practice of writing thank you notes, sending thank you texts, making thank you videos or any type of thank you really will go a long way in showing gratitude and just raising them to be polite! And when it’s reciprocated 👏even better! We were so touched when we received a thank you note from teachers last year in response to the thank you gifts we gave them. Wow! That was unexpected and reminded us how great it feels to be thanked!
Start a Gratitude Journal
Great for older kids and for adults too, a gratitude journal is a lovely practice. Writing down the things that make you grateful every day is a great exercise in being present, living in the moment, and being grateful. And it’s also a great resource on harder days when kids are feeling down, to remind them of all of the things that make them happy or feel grateful. I remember making a Gratitude Journal in University and remember, to this day, some of the simple things I wrote in it, as I reread it often. What a great tool to introduce to our kids early on.
Turkey. Stuffing. Veggies. Potatoes. Pumpkin Pie. For so many people, Thanksgiving means a celebration of the incredible bounty that is available to us, especially the beautiful local produce in areas of the world like Ontario. But for many families, this over-abundance is not possible on Thanksgiving or any day. So on a day where you are enjoying delicious meals and second helpings, consider donating to a food bank, healthy food program or other food security initiative. This is especially relevant in advance of World Food Day, coming up on October 16, an international initiative to take action and help end world hunger.
Our personal favourite is always bringing canned goods to the local fire station, who runs a food drive year round. It’s a win win - we get to donate and visit the fire trucks, which is a big plus for my little fire truck lovers!