Teaching kids gratitude is more than asking them to repeat a simple thank you. Local Parenting expert Deborah Macnamara says it involves showing kids we care about them. And that, when we do, they learn to show care and gratitude towards others in return. Showing gratitude can be a simple gesture like saying I appreciate you. It can also be doing something kind for someone out of the blue. If you’re looking for ways to help foster a sense of thankfulness and caring in your family here are 7 ways to practice gratitude with your kids this Thanksgiving weekend.
Ways to practice gratitude this Thanksgiving
1. Give a token of appreciation.
A token of appreciation can be as simple as grabbing some paper and felts and having your kids draw pictures for people they care about. Ask your little one to think of people who matter to them eg. teacher, family member, dance instructor etc. Talk about what this person likes and what makes them happy. Then, visit a cool local gift shop like Giving Gifts on Main street and pick out something tiny to go with your card. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. Just a small token that says, “I’m thinking of you.”
2. Get into nature and reflect.
Exploring and reflecting on all we are grateful for in nature is a fun way to practice gratitude with your kids this weekend. One of my favourite local walks with kids is Rice Lake in North Vancouver. It’s a fun loop with many treasures along the way. If you’re inspired, have your child find colourful leaves, fun rocks or twigs on your hike to use as a Thanksgiving centrepiece. Then, model thanking nature for providing these things and after your dinner is done, have your child return their finding back outdoors, thanking nature for providing such a colourful centrepiece.
3. Read a Book Together on Gratitude
Reading is always such a great teaching tool, and there are always so many conversation starters with books. A great book on gratitude for kids is National Geographic’s 100 Ways to be Grateful. It’s available at the VPL, and it offers creative ways to slow down, be mindful, and appreciate all the goodness in your life.
4. Start a gratitude jar
A gratitude jar is a great way to keep track of everything that made us grateful over a year. All you need is a mason jar and some crafting supplies from a local craft store like Collage Collage. Have your children decorate their jar. Before dinner starts, put a small strip of paper and pen in front of each place setting. Have everyone write what they are grateful for and read theirs out loud before adding to the jar. Keep the jar visible and add to it as things that make you thankful come up throughout the year. Read everything you were grateful for together in January.
5. Surprise your Neighbours With A Card.
Last year the kids at my daughter’s school made Valentine’s Day cards in class and went around the neighbourhood, dropping them in random neighbours’ mailboxes. They talked about the happiness people would feel when they saw the cards. This year, why not drop some thoughtful cards in your neighbourhood mailboxes too? Encourage your kids to write something simple like, “You’re a great neighbour!” Talk about how you think people will react. A cool spin is to send these local microgreen cards by Gift Green.
6. Send a letter to a loved one
I saw a really cool “Letters for a Year” kit at Kidsbooks recently. It comes with 52 tear-out sheets so you can send letters to loved ones all year round. This weekend have your child think of a loved one they miss and write a letter together letting this person know you miss and appreciate them. It’s a nice way to show care and gratitude for loved ones far away.
7. Make a Gratitude Chalk Mural
Grab some chalk and head to a local park or the Vancouver seawall and decorate the sidewalk with pictures and words of gratitude. Talk about how seeing this might make others smile and feel appreciated. If you have a particular local store you love, pop in and ask if they’d be ok with you chalking outside of their space.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect and there are so many ways to show care and gratitude this weekend, whether through reflection, tokens of appreciation or words of affirmation. What are the simple ways you will practice gratitude with your kids this Thanksgiving?