Using the holiday of Thanksgiving as a teachable moment for the children in our lives, can have very far reaching positive effects. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude from a very young age is key in order to set our young people up for a life filled with success, happiness and peace of mind. Gratitude has been shown to greatly improve the emotional and physical health of children as well as adults so time really is of the essence in introducing this concept from an early age.
One of my favorite activities to do in my Girls Empowerment Workshops and with my own children, is creating Gratitude Jars. This fun and engaging creation is the gift that keeps on giving while sharing it's many rewards, every day of the year - not just during Thanksgiving.
Instructions for Making Gratitude Jars with your child:
1. Find a comfortable and inviting environment to get creative in. The overall feeling of the space that you choose is so important. Our family loves do our activities in the kitchen while playing fun and uplifting music in the background.
2. Start with an Empty Jar. The bigger the better so that their is abundant space for all of your child's grateful thoughts.
3. Decorate. This jar can be decorated with just about anything that you have on hand at home. The key however is to personalize the jar with decorations that are inspiring to your child. Examples include: affirming words cut out of magazines, stickers in the shapes of hearts and peace signs, photographs, or even glitter. The sky really is the limit!
4. Name Your Jar. The lid is typically a perfect place to label the jar while setting the intention of how it will be used. Some names that I have used other than "Gratitude Jar" have been: "Ella's Jar of Good Things" or "Noa's Happy Thoughts Jar".
5. Get Gratitude Paper. I typically love to use vibrant origami paper to write notes of gratitude on. One side is colorful and the other side is blank and perfect for writing notes of gratitude on.
6. Start Writing Together. Kick off this beautiful practice of being grateful together. Take turns writing one thing for which you are grateful and putting your slips in the jar. By modeling this new practice for your child you are setting a meaningful and valuable example that they will happily follow.
7. Contribute a note to the jar each day. Choose a regular time to write the gratitude slips. First thing in the morning or before your child goes to bed is ideal. Soon, the jar will be filled with reminders of all of the blessing in your child's life. If your child has a challenging day prompt them to read some of the notes they have written in the past and then help them find a gratitude to place into their jar for that day.
Rituals such as this one that start in the home become even more powerful when the whole family participates. Sharing your gratitude notes with family members is a bonding activity that gives each family member a unique glimpse into each other's daily life. This act of simply recalling the positive events of each day is a consistent and reminder of how many blessings truly exist within each of their lives - blessings that would otherwise slip by unnoticed and be taken for granted.
Moving through their daily lives in pursuit of finding the good in each day, gives children a new set of fresh lenses that allow them to see experiences they previously may have seen as negative or difficult, in a different light. Becoming aware of all the good that exists within and around them, cuts through the energy of entitlement and clears the path for them to become mindful of the abundance within them and around them.