Kids & Company Blog

Teaching Gratitude

October keeps catching me by surprise. The cold weather comes and stays. Then I’ve got to excavate the fall and winter clothes from storage and pull out my favorite autumn recipes. I flip the page on the wall calendar and start thinking about Halloween costumes, pumpkin carving, booking holiday travel, and buying new snowsuits for the kids (when will they stop outgrowing one each year?).

Since moving to Canada, I discovered Thanksgiving sneaks into the middle of October, a month earlier than in the States. Just like last year, this year I wish I had more time to prepare, to pause and savor my favorite holiday. I feel very rushed into Thanksgiving.

However, I think it’s a really important time of year, and a chance to be together as a family— to be grateful for each other in our home and reflect on all the wonderful people and opportunities in our life.

Children learn by watching us. They learn how we handle different situations and how we speak about and interact with others. Like picking up language requires hearing it spoken around you, learning gratitude most likely requires being surrounded by examples of thankfulness. Do we as parents always complain about life? Do we pause to appreciate the things and people around us? Do we take time to express our thanks on a regular basis? In other words, do we surround our children with the language of gratitude?

The way I explained gratitude to my daughter Sonya is— you say thank you when someone or something makes you feel happy.

“I’m thankful for all the time we spend together, Sonya,” I told her. “I’m thankful for you and your little sister and for Daddy— that we’re all part of the same family. What are you thankful for, Sonya?” I asked.

“Apple juice!” she said immediately.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving crafts is cutting leaf shapes out of paper and writing something I’m grateful for on each one. Then I hang them from a branch as a table centerpiece. Help your children write down what they appreciate in their life. Their answers might surprise you.

Here are all the leaves of gratitude on my daughter’s thankful tree: apple juice, toys, pictures (that surprised me!), baby sister Leena, Daddy & Mommy (on one leaf), ABCs, playground, friends, crackers, apple sauce, and Flynn Rider (the favorite Disney character she wants to be for Halloween).

Happy Thanksgiving!