Mindful Parenting Round-Up: Gratitude & Thanksgiving

It is mid-November, therefore we must begin preparing for 1) a sumptuous feast to end all feasts and 2) extended time spent with family, friends and neighbors and 3) all the high and low feelings that come with embracing the season. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, though. What if we carved out a portion of that preparation energy and diverted a bit to fully embrace (in ourselves) and encourage (in our littles) feelings of gratitude both leading up to and on Thanksgiving Day?

Just a few weeks ago I was in the IKEA parking garage, with my toddler in a carrier on my back, pondering how I was going to get my newly purchased heavy and odd-shaped box into my trunk. This was after trying to push the cart straight for 10 minutes back to my car (why do they always veer right?!) and waiting in the check out line for 40 minutes with a cranky toddler pulling my hair.

I don’t know about you, but nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever offered to help me at IKEA — until then. A small woman who was probably in her late 60s quietly came up behind me and insisted on helping me. I almost cried I was so overcome with gratitude. It’s amazing the impact that a single kind gesture can have on a person.

I am convinced that the sum of many small acts of kindness can change the world and the feeling and expression of gratitude is a huge part of that. We can do our part to promote compassion and peace and it starts with a full heart. Gratitude and mindfulness go together in many ways, and both have been shown to induce positive emotions and improve mental and physical well-being.

This Round-Up is dedicated to practicing gratitude leading up to, and on, Thanksgiving. (Spoiler: yes, modeling gratitude for our littles is mentioned in just about every article).

The Greater Good offers many wonderful resources. Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids discusses ways to encourage gratitude in kids understanding that, most likely, scarcity isn’t a familiar experience for them and that they probably enjoy an abundance. Our job is to “consciously cultivate” gratitude in our littles and this article tells us how. (Bonus: there are some nice videos from Christine Carter).

This second Greater Good article, What Parents Neglect to Teach About Gratitude, posits that we should go beyond teaching our kids to say “thank you” and prompt them with more “notice, think, feel, do” questions. This helps kids realize gratitude is not only about what we give to others but also how we feel about what we receive.

Similar to the thoughts put forth in the Greater Good article, but with additional practical tips, is 11 Tips for Instilling Gratitude in Your Kids from the Huff Post blog: “Gratitude goes beyond good manners — it’s a mindset and a lifestyle.”

If you’re looking for project inspiration, check out these ideas from momma blogger Katie M. McLaughlin at Pick Any Two. Think Gratitude Jars, Thankfulness Postcards and other crafty ways littles can express their gratitude.

The Big Life Journal is committed to teaching kids about growth mindset — the idea that ability is not necessarily fixed but rather acquired through learning, change and developing skills. Their site has a 7-Day Gratitude Challenge with free printables that helps kids express what they’re grateful for through words and art.

Finally, if you are particularly crafty, The Imagination Tree offers six more activities to teach thankfulness from bloggers around the web.

Wishing you all hearts filled to overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving this month.