A holiday filled with lavish feasts and extended family time, Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on blessings with gratitude. But often only a few moments may be spent in actual thanksgiving between frantic cleaning, cooking, and shopping! For some, shopping for enticing deals has even eclipsed their stomachs’ longing for roasted turkey and pumpkin pie. In a matter of days, the weekend passes by and there might not have been time to be thankful.
In the back of our minds, we may know that being thankful should not only happen on Thanksgiving Day. Being thankful has been the focus for many scientific studies, including one from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. With over two decades of research, studies consistently find that practicing gratitude in daily life leads to fewer symptoms of illness and depression and fosters stronger relationships and more generous behavior. With a grateful attitude children can better prepare themselves to face challenges and difficulties ahead.
The process of cultivating a thankful heart is a gradual one. Encouraging your children to shape their thinking begins with how you choose to live as well. Below are a few suggestions for ways to begin.
Say “Thank You”
Acknowledging the service and care of others teaches children to treat others with respect without taking others for granted. This could be verbally expressing thanks or writing a thank you note to your child’s teacher or friend.
Find projects through organizations and charities you can support with your child. Teaching your child about the gift of giving offers them a wider perspective on the hardships people face all over the world. Regularly giving back to the community and people in need is an invaluable gift, given to others.
Seek Moderation in Possessions
Giving your children everything they want, whenever they want it, weakens their grateful disposition. Setting limits allows for greater appreciation for the gifts they receive and the possessions they already have.
Remember, encouraging your children to become more thankful requires patience, perseverance, and consistent modeling. It can take years to grasp what it means to be thankful. At Housatonic Valley Waldorf School, we value building character in your children so they can live purposeful lives. Our teachers emphasize the importance of helping others beyond merely seeking personal gain. Help your children become more thankful so they can appreciate people for who they are instead of what they give.