Laura Range shares four ideas for raising grateful kids beyond the month of November!
My elementary- and preschool-aged children have enjoyed making a construction paper chain full of things we are thankful for this month as we approach the holiday of Thanksgiving. We have discussed the pilgrims and Native Americans in our homeschool lessons, and they look forward to traveling to visit relatives later this week. It's fun to cultivate holiday traditions with young children and to teach them to count their blessings at Thanksgiving.
But how do we teach them thanksgiving beyond November? How do we shape their hearts to cultivate gratitude for what they have when the stores are bursting with Christmas gifts they think they "need"? Here are four ways to help your families make thankfulness a habit when the pumpkin pie is long gone! I'd love to hear some of your own ideas in the comments!
Establish a daily habit of gratitude as a family.
This could be taking turns sharing one thing everyone is thankful for at the dinner table or at bedtime. Or you could have a notebook or gratitude journal that everyone writes in daily. We may think that we are thankful in our hearts, but speaking or writing out the specific ways as a family can surprise us with joy that multiplies.
Model thankfulness during challenging times.
I am quick to complain when something goes wrong, or to focus on the rain instead of looking for a rainbow! Our children—even teenagers!—are always observing us and learning from the ways we act and react. Even in the difficulties of life, we can model for them how to be grateful for the small and large ways God takes care of us even in uncertain seasons. We can be refreshed by the beauty of nature, a free gift God sends daily. We can choose to focus on what we do have rather than lamenting what we do not.
Serve those who have less.
Too often we compare ourselves to those with more money (or toys!), a bigger home, greater health. By remembering and serving those who have less than us—perhaps by serving at a soup kitchen, donating items we no longer need to a battered women's shelter, making cards for children in the hospital, or even just dropping off baked goods to a lonely or elderly neighbor—we choose compassion over coveting, and we realize blessings we too often take for granted.
Receive the Sacraments often as a family.
Try going to Confession monthly together, or adding on a weekday Mass when you can. The word Eucharist means "thanksgiving." Being thankful for the gifts we've been given means little if we do not know the Giver. He waits for us with abundant grace in the Sacraments, especially in Holy Communion and in Reconciliation, grace that transforms our hearts to be able to see with eyes of faith all that He has done for us, all that He has given us, and the infinite love He has for us.
Click to tweet:
It's fun to cultivate holiday traditions with young children and to teach them to count their blessings at #Thanksgiving. But how do we teach them thanksgiving beyond November? #CatholicMom
Copyright 2023 Laura Range
About the Author
Laura Range is an RN-turned-SAHM living in rural Ohio. A wife and mother of 3 (plus one in heaven), she is passionate about marriage and family life, redeeming the culture, and cultivating community. She enjoys cooking (and eating) tasty food, crafting and DIY, good books, little moments, and keeping it real. She runs a local miscarriage ministry and blogs at Life is Beautiful.