The Spirit of Thanksgiving: Talking to Kids About Being Thankful

November 12th, 2010by Jessi Arias-Cooper


Thanksgiving is coming up, and while most of us remember to be thankful over a delicious holiday feast, we should take the time to celebrate the spirit of gratitude all month long.

Children sometimes…okay, most times…take there family, belongings and even access to necessities like food and shelter, completely for granted. It’s just the way things are. Their innocence and lack of exposure to the tumultuous life of adulthood can make them seem ungrateful, when in reality, they just don’t know any differently.

That’s why parents can really take advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday season to show their children how truly fortunate they are. Talking to your children about being grateful for the blessings in your own life helps them to realize the wonderful things they have going on in theirs. Kids, after all, learn best by example, especially yours.

Before you start talking to your kids about the things you’re thankful for, really stop to take stock of your current situation.

Break your ideas down into categories, like these:

Emotional Supports: Our family and friends are those we can lean on when happiness seems to be in short supply. There are many different kinds of families and friends, as well as other emotionally supportive individuals in your life, and they’re all a blessing.

Basic Necessities: You may not be living in the hilltop ch√Ęteau of your childhood dreams, but having a place to call home, food on the table, running water, electricity and heat in the winter are some basic things, that even today, in the land of opportunity, many families would do anything to have.

Employment (whether it’s ideal or not): Whatever your employment situation, there’s always a silver lining. If you’re working your dream job, kudos to you! If you’re between jobs, not so much by choice, not only do you have a free opportunity to look for a job that suits you even better, but you’ve got more time to spend with your children while you search. If you’ve chosen to stay home with your children, the job certainly isn’t always glamorous, but you get to watch your kids grow and be there for some very special moments.

The Bells and Whistles: This category is for all the extras. Think about the modern conveniences that surround you now and compare it to what wasn’t even available when you were a kid. Cellphones, laptops, mp3 players, flat-screen TV’s…the list is endless. These are common household items that your kids may not even realize weren’t around until fairly recently. I remember when my parents got their first color TV. My parents remember getting their first black and white TVs. And my grandparents…well…you get the picture.

Other categories to consider are your faith and belief systems, access to services from public libraries to hospitals, and freedom in general.

Once you’ve sorted out what you’re truly thankful for, share it with your children. Be creative with your conversations and look for a variety of opportunities to exchange ideas with your kids. Let them know why you appreciate the good things in your life, most importantly, them.

Ask them to share their joys with you. If they need help recognizing their own good fortune, tell them about how life was different when you were young and explain to them that there are others, both nation and world-wide, who aren’t as privileged as they are. Many children around the world live without simple necessities like clean water and food, and dream of seeing the inside of a school building…someday.

Thanksgiving may just be one day out of the year, but when you reflect on every delicious morsel of fortune in your life, you’ll see there’s a reason to celebrate every day. Sharing the spirit of gratitude with your children will help them to appreciate all the fabulous things they have going on in there lives, both great and small.

Jessi Arias-Cooper is the senior writer and an editor for Advice4Parenting.com. She is a work-from-home mother of 3 boys and has been married for 10 years. If she had time for hobbies and interests outside of parenting and keeping house, they would be jewelry making, baking, watching bad B-movie horror flicks and creative writing . If you have a question for Jessi, click here.

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