When surrounded by stuff and the constant message to get more stuff, I think it’s hard for kids to feel blessed with what they have. Because they hear they need to get more stuff, they feel want. They feel desire. They can feel jealous and anger because someone has the sneakers they want to wear.
A child’s temperament can also affect how positive they feel about their life. As the mom of 5 different kids, I’ve got a range of behaviors and attitudes to deal with. My second son has a very black and white view of life. When one thing upsets him, he sees his entire day as ruined. On the other hand, my middle son, very self-confident, understands the value of helping others and appreciating what he has. I’ll never forget when he hugged me and told me he was giving me spiritual help with the hug. (Yes, I came very close to crying!)
November Gratitude Project
For a number of years, we’ve spent the month of November writing down what we’re grateful daily. It’s a simple project. I just printed out leaf shapes I found online and cut them out. Each night at dinner, we went around the table with each person sharing one thing they were grateful for that day. With 7 people in our family, those leaf shapes filled up!
Each year, I picked a spot to tape up the leaves. The kids loved seeing the leaves fill up the mirror in our dining room, or cover the china closet.
Simple Thanksgiving Gratitude Garland
This year, I decided to create a simple gratitude garland instead of sticking the leaves to something in the dining room. I love the idea of counting the days inherent in the Advent Garland. Why not do the same with a gratitude garland for November?
Thanks to the wonderful design abilities of my blogging friend Mitzi of Written Reality, I can offer you, my readers, a free printable to create your own gratitude garland.
How to Create a Gratitude Garland
1. Print out 10 copies of the free printable on yellow, orange, red, brown, and green cardstock. If you only have a few colors, that’s fine.
2. Cut out the leaf shapes and put them in an accessible spot along with a pen.
3. Each night at dinner (or a time when your family is together for a meal), have each person share something they’re grateful for that day. Little ones may need a little prompting like reminding them about special activities you did together or something simple like going for a walk in the neighborhood.
4. Pin the leaves to a garland or piece of twine displayed in a public area in your home, and watch the garland grown during the month of November.
Being Grateful Is Not an Overnight Skill
Don’t be frustrated if your kids don’t catch on the first or second time. Toddlers and preschoolers tend to be ego-centric by nature. You can help them by reminding them about the times they shared toys or they helped you do something for someone else. Mentioning ways your kids have helped you or made you feel appreciated will help them to express their own gratitude more often.
If you tend to be a glass-half empty type of person, you may find yourself struggling with finding things to be grateful for 30 days. Writing down things as they happen during the day, especially moments that brought a smile to your face, and sharing those moments with your family will help you retrain yourself to look for the positive in your day.
Download Free Printable for Gratitude Garland
Year-Round Gratitude Project: Highs and Lows
One of our favorite family past times at dinner is to go around the table and share our highs and lows for the day. We’ve had some wonderful conversations about shared items. I love seeing our kids, especially our youngest son, prompt the older kids and adults for their highs and lows.
You’ll find this game along with other games for strengthening your family in Mitzi’s ebook Dinner Games: serving up conversation and family fun. I keep my downloaded copy on my iPad mini, making it accessible at any time. Mitzi also includes Bible verse games, trivia games, and easy getting-to-know-you games. Most of the games don’t need any extra props.