It’s the time of year when people express their thankfulness on Facebook, Twitter and around the Thanksgiving table. For some reason, we get along better during the holidays because gratefulness has a way of changing people.
Imagine what could happen if your family practiced thankfulness all year long! I can’t help but believe that the environment in your home would start to change.
Start with the Basics
The habit of thankfulness starts with the basics; teach your kids to say please and thank you. Yes, you will have to remind them daily, but this is a habit worth instilling. Their friends, coaches, teachers, co-workers, bosses, spouses, and future children will appreciate that spirit of thankfulness.
Count Your Blessings
Sounds cliche, I know, but something happens to people when they start focusing on the good. Does your family make a point of counting blessings?
Find a time every day–at the dinner table, on the way home from school or practice, or when you’re saying goodnight–when everyone shares something they are thankful for. Whether the list includes a good day at practice, a high test score, or a fun afternoon playing with a friend, this daily tradition can help develop a spirit of gratitude.
You might even think about getting a thankfulness journal for your child to write down his blessings. Or get one for the whole family to write in every day, asking each family member to record their blessing.
It always starts with YOU. I know this is hard because I tend to be a very “realistic” person and sometimes that means I forget thankfulness. But as parents, you set the tone and if you want positive, grateful children, they must catch it from you.
Slow Down on the Stuff
Of course parents love to give gifts to their kids, but buying kids whatever they want, whenever they want, diminishes a feelings of gratitude and it can result in a devaluing of what they do have. When they wind up having a lot of stuff, they don’t appreciate each individual thing, and end up always looking to things that are shinier and newer.
Better yet, have them pitch in to help buy something they really want. This teaches them to appreciate it even more when they get it, and it teaches them how to save.
Teach Them to Give Back
Broaden their world a bit and show them how to serve others: feed the homeless at a shelter, give to a community cause, help a neighbor, donate toys or money to those in need.
This year, encourage your family to let your Thanksgiving extend beyond the holiday season and into the rest of the year.
Janis Meredith, sports mom and coach’s wife, writes a sports parenting blog called JBM Thinks.