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Grateful Families: the fine art of raising thankful kids
During the holidays, our thoughts may turn toward family, friends, and all of the blessings we have to be thankful for. The holiday season is the perfect time to start instilling thankfulness in our kids that will hopefully last all year long.
Be a grateful parent
One of the best ways to show our kids how to be thankful is to express our own gratitude. Talk with them about what you are thankful for in your life. Being open and honest with your children is a great way to get them to start thinking about what they are thankful for.
Mother of two, Sierra Ansley, says "I think the first thing is to tell them how grateful you are to have them. I think in general, modeling grateful [behavior] in front of them (having a grateful attitude ourselves, and talking about it) is important. I think kids learn what they live. If they see us pining after a nicer car, a bigger house, etc, that's what they'll learn to do."
A Season for Service
Doing things for others is an important lesson for children. "Children can learn to be grateful and gain a sense of compassion by actively participating in a giving activity," according to Dina Aronson, mother, Registered Dietitian, and blogger for VeganRD. "Taking action results a measurable outcome, and this is more effective than talking about being grateful or how other children may have less. For example, have your child bring gently used toys to a children's hospital playroom, or volunteer with them in a soup kitchen."
There are many volunteer opportunities available to families. These include things as simple as making holiday treats for your neighbors and friends or making holiday cards for relatives.
Your family can also volunteer for non-profit organizations as well, as they are always looking for volunteers. Older children can volunteer at your local food bank putting together food boxes. If your family is unable to volunteer at a food bank, you can donate food, which is greatly appreciated. Find your local food bank by visiting here: http://feedingamerica.org/foodbank-results.aspx
"Meals on Wheels" is an organization, which prepares meals and organizes volunteers to deliver meals to homebound seniors. Your child can ride along and help you to deliver meals. This type of help is always needed and appreciated. You can locate your local "Meals on Wheels" organization here: Find a Meal page
Most malls have a "Giving Tree" during the holidays, which connect children in need with people who have the means to give. The process is very simple. You select a card from the tree, which gives the child's name, age, and holiday wish list. You then purchase or make a gift for the child, wrap it, put their name on it and place in under the giving tree. The gift will then be delivered to the appropriate child. Your children can earn money to help purchase the gift by helping around the house. They can then have the satisfaction of working to buy a gift for a child who has very little.
Practice Simple Living
Living simply and caring for the environment is an important way to teach kids about being thankful and caring for what they have. Practice recycling in your home, and explain to your children that you are doing this in order to protect our earth, which we love and call home. Take them out hiking so they can explore nature and learn to love the natural world. Take them to the zoo and teach them about protecting the endangered animals. Be creative and try to think of some other ways to model thankfulness through simple living.
Keep your expectations low
While it is important to teach our kids to be thankful, we also need to be mindful about going so far that children lose interest.
High school art teacher, Liz Randall, points out that "there is a fine line between grateful and GUILTful! As a teacher I know that while soup kitchens, donations and other such things go a long way to make kids grateful there is a point when pushing the subject creates guilt and discourage them. I would push the positive interactions with your kids up on the list. Happy children are grateful children."
Written by Angela Coate-Hermes
These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration. The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.