Today more than ever kids can get overwhelmed with toys, technology, sports activities and after school clubs. Life for them often revolves around their own personal schedules and friends. As parents, we need to be mindful of this and find ways to help kids think outside of themselves. Raising thankful kids can be challenging but creating family activities based on thankfulness can provide meaning for all family members. Here are three ideas that will do just that.
* Start a Thankful Journal Use a notebook or special journal to record one thing daily that each family member is thankful for. Each night at dinner, or each morning at breakfast, when the family is together, whoever is the designated secretary for the book should write down what each person is thankful for that day. This is a wonderful way to keep track of events in your family, and it will help kids be grateful for what they have. When family members get older and read this journal, it will bring warm memories and maybe some smiles too. Moms and dads should also write down what they are thankful for. I know of a family who did this and they still laugh together years later about how many times their seven year old daughter was thankful for her hamster, especially after it was found when it escaped from its cage.
* Start a Thankful Jar This can be a special container, or an empty coffee can that the kids help decorate. Keep the jar in the family room or kitchen so that it can be easily accessible to all family members. Keep a small pad of paper and a pen or pencil near the pad. Each family member should write down something they are thankful for at least once a week, sign their name, fold it and put it in the jar. This can be done at the same time each week, such as Friday night while sharing a pizza, after a long week of school and work. Or on a Sunday night before bed. They can add other slips of paper during the month as well. Then once per month, a family meeting is held and people take turns reading the slips of paper and sharing what family members are thankful for. Kids love taking turns reading these slips of paper out loud, and the messages will bring smiles or maybe a teary eye here and there.
* Writing Letters of Gratitude Once Week To encourage kids to reach out to others, once a week all family members can write 1 letter or note to someone they care about telling them something they are thankful for. Grandparents, aunts and uncles will all treasure a letter from a young family member. But the letters could be to immediate family members as well. A child may want to tell their parent that they are grateful for an especially fun family outing. Or a wife may want to tell her husband she is grateful for the help with the laundry that week. Doing it together can be a fun and meaningful family event. And the youngest family members will get a kick out of going to the post office to mail the letters themselves.
Participating in family activities that emphasize thankfulness will bond a family closer together for years to come.