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Published on November 26, 2019

thankful written in black on white background

Inspiring a Thankful Heart

I love November, because for me it is the time to reflect back on the year and what I am thankful for. It is a great reminder that no matter the trials I may have encountered in the past year that there is always something to be grateful for.

Gratefulness is an important value that I have tried to instill upon my children. There are many ways to demonstrate this to your children. Some ways you could model this might be:

  • Each day, challenge yourself to say one thing you are grateful for during the past year. I did this one year by adding a post every day to Facebook in the month of November, but you can do it any time. I often shared these posts with my children and challenged them as well to think of something.
  • Encourage your children to say please and thank you and role model this yourself by verbalizing what you are thankful for when you use those words. Such as, "I really appreciated it when that man held the door for us." or "It made me happy to see you sharing that last cookie with your brother."
  • Sometimes it can be fun to do a good-will project as a family, such as shoveling the neighbor’s sidewalks or volunteering serving a meal at a local shelter during the holidays.
  • Encourage generosity by going through unwanted toys and clothing and giving them to someone in need or writing letters to individuals without families at a nursing home. The list goes on and on but all these ideas are a great way to not only spend time with your loved ones but give back to others.
  • Another great idea brought to me by a co-worker was a plastic tube of cardboard leaves each with a different direction on it. She found this at the Target dollar spot and it was a bunch of leaves filled with sayings such as, "Write my family members positive notes," "Find shapes in the clouds," or "Make a new friend at school today." Each day your child is able to look forward to pulling out a leaf and seeing what it says and completing what is on the leaf. Many of the items on the leaves involved doing some type of kind act.
  • Little children love making "Thankful Turkeys." A Thankful Turkey is done by creating a turkey using a turkey template. There are many turkey templates to be found on Pinterest. Have your child assemble and color their turkey and on each feather have them list one thing they are thankful for. You can glue their turkeys to a toilet paper tube and they make a cute centerpiece for your table at Thanksgiving.
  • One thing my children really enjoyed was our thankful tree at Thanksgiving. I used a canned vegetable tin and got some rocks and a stick with some branches for our Thankful Tree. We then each got a paper leaf with a yarn string attached to it (so it looked like an ornament) and were then instructed to write down one thing we were thankful for. Finally at dinner time we each went around and said what we are thankful for and then put our leaf on the tree. For a large group you might only do one leaf and for a smaller group you might do more than one leaf.

Any of these ideas are a great way to inspire a thankful heart. It’s so easy in our world to get bogged down with all the negative thus is makes it all the more important to take the time to think about all there is to be thankful for and spread that thankfulness to others. Prayers for a thankful heart and a very happy month of Thanksgiving!

By Beth Lucht, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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