Science has shown us that paying attention to what we’re grateful for can actually lead to living happier lives. And in this season of thankfulness, there’s no better time to include our children in this mindfulness practice. Learning the concept of being grateful is not always an easy one − life often deals us lemons − but looking on the bright side of life is always best. Keeping a journal is a wonderful way to teach children to recognize the happiness and joy in their lives.
When Thanksgiving prep begins in early November, give each member of your family a Grateful Journal. This journal can be something as simple as a spiral notebook or as fancy as a bound book. Amazon has a great selection of journals for kids. Some of you DIYers may prefer to make your own, too.
Once everyone has their journals, explain that they are Grateful Journals. Be prepared to define “grateful,” “thankful,” and “blessing” for the younger kids. Give the children an example of what you’re grateful for, like having a warm meal to eat, and then encourage them to think about something that happened that day that they are grateful for so they can write it down or tell you to write in their journals.
Maybe your daughter really liked doing something specific that day, like riding a bike, or maybe your son met someone new or got to be the line leader in school. If your child can’t yet write, she can draw a picture of what she’s thankful for or cut out pictures from magazines or use stickers to illustrate her thoughts. He can also dictate to you what he wants to express. Drawing the little ones out and getting them to figure out what they’re feeling might be a little rough-going in the beginning, but make sure you write down each response.
A Family Activity
It’s equally important for other siblings and you as parents to participate in this activity. Your shared participation will help children understand the concept and give them the vocabulary they need to say what they’re grateful for. You can choose to share your thoughts with each other every night, at dinner or bedtime, or any time that makes sense for you as a family. On Thanksgiving, have each person choose the five things from his or her journal that he or she is most grateful for to share with the group, maybe during the blessing before the big meal.
Make sure and keep your journal every year. These Grateful Journals are a great family ritual that you all will enjoy for years to come.