Living and Teaching Thankfulness

By Sheila Wathen /

With Thanksgiving coming up, it is time to reflect on what we are thankful for. However, I know that many people— especially parents of young children—don’t feel they have the time or energy to reflect. With food prep, holiday shopping costs, travel planning, weather delays and dealing with family members who sometimes bring out the worst in us, it can be a very stressful time of year.

Is there a way to model thankfulness for our kids that doesn’t seem like ‘one more thing I have to do’? Yes. Not only can we fit it in, it can actually act as a stress reliever for us. That’s right, giving thanks can actually improve your mental health and immune system.

gratitudequotes6Take a deep breath, look someone in the eye and say “Thank you.”

We often say “thank you” several times a day without really thinking about it—to the cashier, as we end a phone conversation, when someone opens a door for us. Try spending the next few days being mindful and conscious of when you say those words. When you say “thank you” to someone in person, look them in the eye. Think about what you are thanking the person for, even if it is something small (making you smile, giving you the correct change, etc.). Realize that we have many opportunities in our lives for which we say ‘thank you.’

Whenever you are feeling stressed out about something (an activity, relationship or finances), stop and think of 2-3 positive things about it. They can be simple things, but the more you gently remind yourself of these positives, the more easily a shift towards gratitude can happen.

Then, start mentioning your ‘thankful things’ to others around you, especially your kids. While in the car you might mention out loud how grateful you are for the snow plows that clear the roads, or for the beauty of a blue sky. Then invite your child to say what he or she is grateful for. You might be surprised!

from meaningfulmama.comDon’t think of it as adding ‘one more thing.’ Think of it as taking one small step that provides an antidote to stress.

For those who want to go a step further, try starting a Gratitude Journal (There’s even an app you can use. Again, this is something you could do with the kids) or play the Thankful Game after dinner one evening. Perhaps you might decide to create a Thankfulness Tree or make a Gratitude Activity Jar.

All it takes is a bit of mindfulness and soon you’ll be cultivating a habit that may relieve stress AND help you and your children to focus on the positive.GratefulInfographic-by-heresmychance




More ideas for how to raise a thankful child:










Sheila Wathen works as a teacher, webmaster & technology consultant and loves to help people of all ages discover new ways to use and understand technology. For fun she sings in her church choir, does yoga and researches her family history. Originally from Minnesota, she lived in Ohio and Pennsylvania before settling in Lenawee County in 1999 with her husband, Steve. Sheila is proud that her daughter Leah is a fan of reading, science, computers and languages.

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