Gratitude is a powerful character trait! It increases resilience, positive emotions, patience, generosity, feelings of connectedness, and compassion.
This time of year can be especially challenging for families to find gratitude in amidst the bustle of wish lists, gift giving, and stuffed shopping mall parking lots. But this season can be a reminder of everything we are thankful for, as well. Here are a few ideas to help harness the power of gratitude in the holiday season:
1. Help kids make a "grateful list" along with their wish lists of presents they'd like to receive. It might be fun to wrap up things you are grateful for and re-open them together as a family, openly expressing how happy you are with them!
2. Teach kids the "warm fuzzies" of helping others, and help them see the good feelings of altruism. We are wired to connect with and help each other, and it feels good to support the people around us. Can half of any Christmas money go towards buying a sleeping bag, socks, or blanket for an unhoused neighbor? Can you make hot chocolate as a family to share? Those small items can radically change their whole experience. Use empathy to imagine the different between sleeping outside with a raggedy blanket vs. a sleeping bag!
3. Practice writing high quality thank you cards or emails when they receive gifts.
- What did they receive? How did it make them feel, and how will they use it?
- Why are they grateful for the gift giver, and what is a memory they have together? How would their life be different without that person?
- Send wellwishes and love with the card. Maybe add some artwork of them playing with the new toy, or spending time with the person they're writing the card to.