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Encouraging Your “Little Turkeys” To Be Grateful

Jill Zuinga Wasatch Family Therapy

Jill Zuniga, APC

As we approach one of the busiest times of the year, I have noticed how easy it is to get caught up in Christmas shopping or decorating and cleaning house (not to mention countless hours spent in cooking!) to prepare for hosting this year’s “holiday get-together”! Then of course, there’s always wrapping gifts – my LEAST favorite of all of the above. We have so much to accomplish in just a short amount of time that we sometimes forget to be thankful for what we have been given and maybe most importantly, forget to teach our children that very same thing.

Research shows that children learn best when they are able to physically experience the objective of a lesson and/or creatively express themselves regarding what they’ve learned. The following are a few ideas of things that will help teaching your children to be thankful for the blessings in their lives more easily understood and definitely more fun! In fact, I am quite sure that if you make the time to do something like this with your child, you will also be reminded of your own thankfulness for what you have been given in your own life!

1 – Make a Thankful Paper Chain:

This is just like the paper chains that kids make at school with colored construction paper strips linked and glued together. Cut out the strips of paper and have your child write or draw pictures of things they are thankful for – their family members or friends, their teacher, their pets, maybe even a special toy they have been given and the person that gave it to them! Make the chain as long as you possibly can. This will help your child become aware of the many things they have in their lives to be thankful for. Don’t forget to go through the chain periodically with your child throughout the season so that they begin to understand that being thankful for the blessings in their life is a continual thing.

2 – Volunteer Work:

This can be an entire family event that can be an incredible experience for everyone involved! Contact your local Red Cross, soup kitchens, homeless centers and churches and see what you can do to help them reach out to those in need this holiday season. Try getting together with your neighbors and friends to put together Thanksgiving boxes – complete with all of the necessary ingredients to make a turkey dinner – and deliver them to families who may not have the money to have a big dinner this year.

3 – Make a Thanksgiving Tree:

Cut out a large brown tree trunk with tree branches sprouting above. Then have each person in your family trace and cut out their own hands in various fall colors (red, orange, yellow and brown). On each of their hand cut-outs, have them write down various things they are thankful for. After everyone has completed this step, then allow each person to choose the placement of their hand onto the different branches to create a colorful fall tree. Hang this in a prominent area in your home, where it can be easily seen. It will serve as a constant reminder of the many things to be thankful for.

As with so many situations with children they do learn a lot by watching those around them so be sure to try to model the things you hope they pick up. Participate in the activities just as you are expecting them to and talk about the things that you are thankful for. Give them examples to look to and help them understand that these are things that they can appreciate throughout the whole year, not just at Thanksgiving.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

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