The beautiful week that is often over shadowed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads is upon us and my gift I hope to bestow upon you is this…to do one simple thing to show your thanks. How? Here you go…
For your FAMILY: A simple gesture of LOVE. Write a note, a line, a blurb of something you LOVE about them. This morning I have been creating two flip books for two of my siblings. I have two siblings that were born between this giving holiday, so we decided to create a bday book to celebrate them. It was humbling to see my parents notes and my other five siblings write memories, send pictures, send funny thoughts, feelings, etc. about two great people. I think you always appreciate family, but you definitely take them for granted. It was beautiful to read the memories and see these people through other lenses. What a gift. I don’t think we can open our hearts enough, even though sometimes it is harder than you think. So go beyond yourself this week, share a thought, a love note, a fun pic, something that connects you to those closest in your giving circle.
For your CHILDREN: Help them get in the habit of finding things to be grateful for. Each night we either write in a journal or share them out loud, at least three things we are grateful for from the day. Children are never too young to learn gratitude.
Toddlers are by definition completely egocentric. Still, children as young as 15 to 18 months can begin to grasp concepts that lead to gratitude, says Lewis. “They start to understand that they are dependent; that Mom and Dad do things for them,” she says. In other words, toddlers comprehend that they are separate human beings from their parents, and that Mom and Dad often perform actions to make them happy (from playing peekaboo to handing out cookies) — even if kids that age can’t articulate their appreciation. By age 2 or 3, children can talk about being thankful for specific objects, pets, and people, says Ryan. By age 4, children can understand being thankful not only for material things like toys but for acts of kindness, love, and caring.
How to Teach it? Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Lately, we’ve been trying to weave appreciation for mundane things into our everyday talk — When you reinforce an idea frequently, it’s more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a “thanking” part of the day. Two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.
By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way, says Barbara Lewis, author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids ”On the flip side, kids who aren’t taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed,” says Lewis. -Parents.com article
Jeffrey Froh, PsyD research shows there are plenty of good reasons to try to teach gratitude He recently asked one group of middle school students to list up to five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks, while a second group recorded daily hassles and a third only completed a survey. “The gratitude group experienced a jump in optimism and overall well-being,” reports Froh. “Furthermore, they were more satisfied with school even three weeks later.” Likewise, a Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,200 kids between the ages of 8 and 18 found that those who were grateful for what they had were also more generous, even if they were fairly materialistic. -Familycircle article
Be a Role Model of Gratitude: As parents we need to understand that we can’t expect our children to be grateful, if we are not examples of this ourselves. Find gratitude in the little things and you will also find it in the bigger things.
Say Thank you: Just the simple act of helping your children learn to say thank you will make a big difference in the energy they carry and the people they touch with their smile.
Explain to children why gratitude is important: The strategy: Explain why it’s important to be grateful when someone helps you out. “Kids sometimes have the belief that people ‘should’ do things for them,” says Froh, “so it’s helpful to point out that people’s kind deeds are often done out of the goodness of their hearts.” -Familycircle
Gratitude tree: I have seen this done with a simple tree made to hang on the fridge & paper leaves were then attached, an entire wall created into a tree in your home, something to add to the dinner table, etc. You could buy silk leaves, use paper tags, stickers…the ideas are endless. Just google, “gratitude tree” and look at the many images and ideas you could create. Have fun with this. When family comes to visit, have them write something for the tree. Have your children create a special leaf each day
Write Thank you notes: The strategy: Write appreciative letters to the important people in our lives. “Acknowledging your feelings on paper makes them more conscious and concrete,” says Robert Emmons, PhD, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin) -Familycircle
Find a goodwill project: Whether it is volunteering at a local charity, collecting old toys for a toy drive, sending post cards to soldiers or making blankets for someone in need–find something that your whole family can get excited about.
Here is another idea I found: “We put our change in a ‘Pennies from Heaven’ jar,” says Barbara Owens, mother of four, ages 10, 12, 16, and 20, in Manalapan, New Jersey. “Every time something devastating happens in the world, we sit down and talk about how blessed we are, then send a contribution.”
Hope this helps you find one simple thing you can ‘GIVE’ to those you LOVE.
-Peace & blessings to you this holiday. -H