Thanksgiving is quite unbelievably a mere two days away. Regardless of whether you’re hosting or attending Thursday’s Thanksgiving dinner, you’re most assuredly busy this week and every week from now until New Year’s Day. You’re shopping, preparing travel plans, finishing up projects at work, and maybe even wishing the holiday season was already past.
While the holidays can, unfortunately, be more stressful than they are relaxing and joyful, take a moment this year to teach your children what it means to be thankful. While it can seem cliché, gratefulness has proven to be extremely beneficial to overall happiness and can improve many aspects of peoples’ lives.
Time magazine recently released an article with seven surprising health benefits of gratitude. Gratitude and gratefulness improve patience, relationships, self-care (healthier diet and exercise choices), sleep, self-control (particularly when it comes to overeating), and depression and leads to enduring happiness. The Los Angeles Times also reports correlations between gratitude and fighting addictions, combatting jealousies and envy (we all have that one Facebook friend whose life seems just a little too perfect), improving the jobs of managers, and increasing life satisfaction for children.
Teaching your kids to be grateful at young ages can help set them up for lifetimes of healthier thinking, healthier relationships, and healthier lifestyle choices; use this Thanksgiving as a starting point. During Thanksgiving dinner (or anytime throughout the day) have your children make lists of everything they’re thankful for this year. Have them share the lists with you and other family members. Make your own list to share with them as an example and to free yourself into the same spirit of thankfulness.
In order to keep gratitude on your children’s minds long after your Tupperware of leftovers have been scraped clean, create a nightly family dinner or bedtime ritual during which you ask your children to share what six things they are grateful for from their day.
It is astounding how even on the very worst day, it is still relatively simple to come up with six things for which to be thankful. It can change your entire outlook on the day as you realize it wasn’t quite as bad as you thought. Keep the trend up nightly, and as gratefulness becomes a more common practice, your children will recognize the positive more often than the negative things going on in their lives.
This exercise will not only benefit your children but also yourself as you share with them the things for which you are grateful. You’ll serve as a shining example while also changing your own thought process and building up your own gratefulness and happiness. We can all use more of that, right?
Need something festive to read to your children this week? They’re sure to love our list of Thanksgiving Must-Reads for Families!