Cultivating an attitude of gratitude at home

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“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings….” ~William Arthur Ward

Thanksgiving is just around the corner here in the United States. I love that this holiday serves as a reminder to pause and give thanks for the abundant blessings we have. However, the practice of gratitude should extend beyond November, don’t you agree?

I strive to weave appreciation, thankfulness, and acknowledgement into our family’s day to day life. Here are a few favorite ideas from our home, and I hope you’ll share your gratitude practices in the comments, as well.

Thankful from A to Z

Do you and your kids ever play the alphabet game? To play, you take turns saying a word, starting with A and trying to get all the way to Z. For the thankful version, you just have to say things you are thankful for. Simple and sweet, plus I love hearing what my girls come up with for letter x!

The best thing…. Game

Here’s a fun game for your next car ride or family walk. One person starts the game by saying The best thing about ______ is….., and everyone else chimes in with a positive comment about that person, item, or idea. For example, I might start the game with The best thing about shoes is…., and the girls might chime in with they keep our feet warm or they let me walk on rocks.

Here are some topic ideas to get you started, although I’ve found my kids have no trouble thinking of ideas!

  • a person’s name
  • something in nature
  • today
  • our neighborhood
  • cars
  • our hands
  • day of the week
  • animal
  • food
  • holiday
  • our home

I love this game because it helps us look for the good in everything – and yes, your kids will probably try to stump you with things like poop, garbage, and throwing-up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Write it Down

You’ve heard of gratitude journals, right? This type of journaling is a simple, daily practice for acknowledging our blessings, no matter how small. I love keeping a personal gratitude journal, where I write 3-5 things I am thankful for each day. I’ve found that the more I write in my gratitude journal, the more I seek out things to be thankful for during the day.

I also like doing more public writing with the whole family, so I can model and share gratitude practices with my girls. Here are some ideas for writing about gratitude with your family:

•Fill a wall or window with thankful sayings on sticky notes.

•Keep a family gratitude journal. Write it in together once a week, or pass it around from person to person.

•Tape a large piece of paper to the wall for a week or longer. Encourage everyone in the family to add words and drawings to create a thankfulness poster.

•Set-out a jar for each member of your family, along with a stack of paper strips and pens. Write notes of gratitude to each other, over time, till the jars are full. (Take dictation for the littles.) Then sit down and read your jar full of loving, thankful words. What a great boost for not-so-awesome days!

Take Action

In our family, we often talk about the idea that gratitude is not just a feeling, it’s an action. I am far from perfect at this, but it’s a great thing for me to practice side-by-side with my girls.

•Write thank you notes. Write them for obvious things, like birthday gifts, but write them for small things or just because, too.

•Brainstorm ways kids can pay forward a good deed – doing a sibling’s chore, offering to help before being asked, etc.

•Schedule time on your family calendar to show unexpected gratitude to people you love and appreciate.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” ~Thornton Wilder

What does your family do to encourage an attitude of gratitude? What are your favorite ways of giving thanks beyond Thanksgiving Day?

[really_simple_share]
About AmyA

At her blog, Let’s Explore, Amy shares her family’s experiences creating, imagining, and playing together. You can read about her homeschooling journey at Early Bird Homeschool.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace

Comments

  1. Over this past year I have been trying to keep a gratitude journal for myself to encourage me on bad days. I started out trying to get my kids to play along, but I don’t think I explained it well enough to my (then 3 and 1 year olds) kids. But, with the start of the holiday season, we have been trying to talk more about what we are thankful for. My daughter does a “thank you” prayer during our circle time in the morning which usually amounts to “thank you for the food that we eat, the toys that we play with and the books that we read” But, we are moving in the right direction!
    Heather´s latest post: Christmas crafting has begun!

  2. These are such great ideas and I love the simplicity. They can be easily slipped into an ordinary day. At our house we’ve just begun this new practice. We’re loving it.

    http://seamlessdays.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/free-printable-thanksgiving-banner-to-enjoy-all-year/
    Gina´s latest post: the {not so} quiet time companion

  3. I love this post and plan on sharing these ideas with my children. I think they will enjoy using the gratitude jar. We are planning on crafting a gratitude tree for Thanksgiving this year. Thank you for sharing your great ideas!
    Jill@MomsGoneGlobal´s latest post: How Community Gardens Can Help Kids Go Global

  4. On a very small scale, last Thanksgiving we made a little accordion fold book with folds for each person in our family, then we each wrote (or dictated) some things we’re thankful for. It was fun to pull out last year’s for display, and this year’s book is ready to be created. I think the idea came from here or Simple Mom last year…and I’m thankful for that!
    Lynda@Rhody Reader´s latest post: Up From the Blue by Susan Henderson

  5. I saw this idea somewhere on the Internets… Last week I put up “The Thankful Tree” in our living room; it’s just some plain white paper on which I drew the outline of a tree and labeled it. I used yellow, orange, brown, and green paper to cut out leaves which are kept in a can near the tree. Each morning, each person says what they are thankful for, it gets written on a leaf and the leaf is stuck on the tree. This has been a wonderful activity for my 4 y.o. son, and I think next year it will be better for my 2 y.o., but it is enjoyable for all of us and a great way to really focus on thankfulness and gratitude. I can’t wait to do this year after year! I will probably take a nice, close-up picture of it to preserve its thoughts and ideas, but I won’t save it from year to year, I’ll just make a new one.

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  1. [...] Simple Kids today, I’m sharing some thoughts on modeling and practicing gratitude with kids (always a [...]

  2. [...] This post is supposed to be about helping kids give thanks to Gd. In this period leading up to US thanksgiving, there are actually many activities out there specifically on gratitude. For instance, this post on teaching gratitude at home. [...]

  3. [...] Kids this week had a great post about Cultivating and Attitude of Gratitude in your Home.  “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings….” ~William Arthur [...]

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