Gratitude is the topic at this time of year, especially with our kids. They are hearing about Thanksgiving and thankfulness at home, at school, and wherever else they spend time. We make gratitude trees, put thankfulness notes into a jar, or verbally express what we are thankful for. These are great exercises for our kids, and they can set up a habit of thankfulness, which really is quite important. However, we can all start to feel that this gratitude teaching is getting a little stale year after year. How many ways can we make gratitude interesting to our kids? Hopefully we can help you come up with a few new ideas for expressing gratitude in your home this year.
There are such great benefits to living a life filled with gratitude. Gratitude helps us in every area of our lives. It not only affects our emotional health, but it also helps us physically and socially. This article from Positive Psychology gives a thorough overview of the research and benefits of gratitude. With such universal benefits, gratitude is something we should definitely pursue.
Even though we know it’s a good thing, we can get bored with the idea of gratitude. And our kids can fall into this too. How many times can we tell our kids to say “thank you”? And how many more times do our kids want to hear that? It gets wearying for both adults and children. So let’s look at a few ideas for expressing gratitude in new ways.
A different kind of Thank You note
Of course we know that writing thank you letters is a great way to help our kids stop and show gratitude. But what if we switch it up a bit and thank people for other things. We can thank people for being good friends to us. Or we could thank teachers and coaches and school administrative staff for the ways they help us. Maybe thank your neighbors for being good neighbors. Or think of someone’s positive character qualities, and thank them for their generosity or their kindness. Talk to your kids about writing thank you notes for things that are not physical gifts. And help them think through how giving this kind of thank you note can encourage someone. While you are working on new ideas for expressing gratitude, you could actually make someone’s day with this different kind of thank you.
Categorize your thankful list
If your kids have been listing things that they are thankful for, then you know that this gets repetitive after a while. If your thankful lists are feeling boring and stale, try changing up the way you list things. Instead of choosing something from your entire existence, try narrowing it down to specific categories. For example, one day we can be thankful for something blue. Another day, we can be thankful for something to eat. Then we can be thankful for something that begins with the letter A. The categories are endless. There are plenty of colors, and there are 26 letters in the alphabet. There are plants, books, toys (with several subcategories), fruits, animals, places, family members, friends, songs, and things in our houses. Once you get going, you can list a few months’ worth of categories.
Then, each day, you and your kids can be thankful for something in that day’s specific category. This new idea for expressing gratitude can get our minds going in different ways and make our lists more interesting.
Practice in new ways at home
It feels good when someone thanks you for your work, your effort, or your accomplishments. With this in mind, we can start thanking each other in our homes. “Hey, thanks for unloading the dishwasher!” can mean a lot to our kids. You can even make it goofy and exaggerate it for some extra fun. “Thanks for having blue eyes!” can start a round of silly gratitude that will leave you all laughing and feeling good. I’m going to try this one this week.
As you practice gratitude in your home this month, remember to check the Holiday Shows on My Signing Time. There are some Thanksgiving shows you can use right away, and there are other holiday shows you can use in the future. Some of them are available for free viewing, and some of them are available with a My Signing Time digital subscription. Check out our Holiday Shows here!