Like everything else during quarantine, this holiday season may be filled with tough choices and changes for families. The good news is that the holidays are also a time when gratitude is front and center – and gratitude has been shown to help kids (and adults) be resilient through tough times, from experiencing more positive emotions to sleeping better. Thanksgiving is the perfect holiday to start practicing.
Start a gratitude journal. From now until Thanksgiving, have your child write a sentence or draw a picture of something they’re grateful for each day. Challenge your child to be specific – the more they pay attention to details, the more they’ll start to notice the positive things in their life.
Make a gratitude chain. This crafty take on a gratitude journal gets the whole family involved. Set up a station with precut construction paper, markers, and tape or glue in a high-traffic spot in your home. Ask family members to pause every time they walk by to jot down something they’re grateful for – then fasten it as a link on the chain. On Thanksgiving, plan “gratitude breaks” to read links aloud.
Write or draw Thanksgiving cards. If your child is sad about not getting to see a family member or friend this holiday season, channeling it into writing or art can be soothing for them – and a sweet surprise for the recipient.
Instead of prank calls, make “thanks” calls. Sit down with your child in the days leading up to Thanksgiving and make a list of people who’ve done something nice for them lately. Then set aside time on Thanksgiving for your child to call and say thanks.
Send virtual care packages. Social distancing and self-quarantining means you can’t get together to hug in person, but your child can send the next best thing: a bunch of photos and silly video clips that will spark a smile.
Decorate the front yard with thank-you signs. From essential workers and healthcare heroes to teachers and neighbors, lots of people deserve a special thank-you. Get your child involved in drawing or painting signs to decorate your yard this Thanksgiving season.
Try a twist on kindness rocks. Have your child paint rocks with images and messages that inspire gratitude. On Thanksgiving Day, take a trail walk to work off that turkey, and set the rocks in special places to surprise other hikers.
Find a way to give back. Talk to your child about the causes that matter to them, and the people or things in the community that they’d like to help. Reach out to organizations to see how you can give back, whether that’s making a donation or volunteering in a way that’s safe during COVID-19.
Yes, this pandemic holiday season may have its challenges. But with some practice, your family can still put the “thanks” in Thanksgiving – and maybe even create a gratitude habit that will help your child grow up seeing the bright side of life.