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Published on November 10, 2020

variety of pumpkins and thankful sign

Practice Gratitude – All Month Long

This year has been full of unknowns and surprises for all of us. I know for me personally it has been hard to adjust to all the changes and cancelled plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. November is always a time I try to encourage my family to practice thankfulness and gratitude, and this year I feel that it is even more important than in the past to remember to be grateful.

Even though this Thanksgiving might not be the same for many of us, it is important to help kids (and adults) to see that there are still many ways to practice being thankful. Some ways you could help encourage your children to practice thankfulness this month include:

  • Share one thing you are grateful for each day throughout November. This could be in a journal or on a social media platform such as Facebook.
  • Encourage your children to use manners by saying please and thank you. Verbalize your own gratitude by saying things such as “I really appreciated that letter Grandma sent last week” or “It made me happy to see you help your sister pick up her toys.”
  • Encourage your family to help out a neighbor or relative this season. You could rake a neighbor’s yard or pick up groceries for an elderly relative.
  • Have your children go through toys and games and donate them to someone or an organization in need.
  • Play the Grateful Game at dinner every night in November. Use pieces of colored paper or colored sticks. Each person draws one and says something they are thankful for. If they draw red they say a person they are thankful for, orange a place they are thankful for, green a food they are thankful for, and blue an object they are thankful for.
  • Create a grateful jar have everyone put something they are grateful for every day in the jar and read them aloud at the end of the month.
  • Have young children make a thankful turkey with their hand-print. Each of their fingers can list one thing that they are grateful for.
  • Place a large piece of paper on each family member’s bedroom door and write things that you are thankful for about them, such as, “I appreciate that you help with dishes” or “I am thankful that you are kind to your siblings”.
  • Create a thankful tree. Decorate an empty canned vegetable tin, find a stick with some branches on it, place it in the can and put rocks around it to hold the branch. Make a paper leaf with string attached to it and write down one thing you are thankful for. At dinner time you can each say one thing you are thankful for before you place it on the tree. This could be a fun centerpiece for Thanksgiving dinner as well.

There are many ways to encourage your family to be thankful. This year, more so than others, it is beneficial to see the positive in our lives and not let the negativity get us down. We hope you find time to include some of these ideas in your family’s lives.

Prayers for a thankful heart and a very happy month of Thanksgiving! 

Patricia Bates, Family Life Educator, Women’s and Children’s Community Outreach Education, Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center

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