Every single holiday is a little bit different for our family. I’m guessing it’s probably different for yours as well.
There are, of course, some things that never change. We listen to the same Christmas music (and fight the urge to start playing it before Thanksgiving, generally losing that battle miserably). We eat the same foods, put our tree in the same spot, use the same recipe for the Thanksgiving turkey because it’s just so delicious, and we mostly celebrate with the same people.
There are a few constants in the holiday season that make these days so very sweet. And then there are the changing variables.
Every year my kids are a little bit older (obviously), and their interests a little different. When they were all young, finding new ways to cherish and celebrate the holidays seemed easier because they were so easy to please.
Storybooks and hidden elves were the only status quo necessary to make little eyes dance with delight.
Teenagers and their tween siblings have made this more of a dance. How do we foster a heart of thankfulness in the big kids with all the hormones who are no longer impressed with our silly little games and songs?
Here are a few tips for igniting thankfulness in the hearts of your children, both big and small.
1.) Serve Others
There is no quicker and more effective way to tangibly impact your children’s lives than through the act of serving others. It is so important to pull our kids from their own little bubbles and to show them the great, big world around them that longs to be seen.
Find a local food bank offering a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless and take your kids along to help serve.
Throw a Thanksgiving party, or a Christmas party, and have the guests bring gifts to donate to your local Ronald McDonald House, then take your kids with you when you deliver those gifts.
There are a plethora of ways to get kids involved in serving, particularly during the holidays. And as you serve together, talk openly and freely about how thankful you are for the opportunity.
2.) Show Them
We are the first mode of defense against selfishness in our kids lives. They will see how we respond to the opportunity to serve others, and they will follow suit.
They will also respond to the way we talk about the day to day life around us, so we have to strive to pour gratitude and love from our lips rather than frustration and complaints.
My three year old is extremely intuitive. It’s actually a little freaky at times.
If I sigh with impatience while she’s putting on her shoes, she’ll look up at me with her gigantic, knowing eyes, and gives me a chubby smile.
“It’s okay, Mommy,” she says. “I hurry.”
She knows when I’m frustrated, and she will follow suit if I don’t reign it in.
On the flip side, she also picks up on thankfulness and soaks it right in. When we see the sunset at night, the sky all lit up in vibrant pinks and reds and blues, she will clap her hands and yell “Good job, God!”
She’s heard me say that a time or two.
And lest we think it’s only the little ones who are impacted by our own thankful hearts, know that your big kids are watching, too. They may not let on as readily as the younger kids, but they will respond to situations according to what they’ve seen in their parents.If they see thankfulness in you, they will feel thankfulness themselves.Click To Tweet
3.) Be Purposeful
Every moment is ripe with the potential to feel gratitude. From buying Christmas gifts to cleaning the house for Thanksgiving guests – all of it is an opportunity to show your thankful heart to the world around you.
Talk to your kids about it as you help them clean the bathroom.
Dance around the kitchen when you prepare dinner.
And on the days when you’re overwhelmed and the kids are acting like tiny lunatics? Well, take a few deep breaths and remember that bedtime is coming, and for that you can always give thanks.
How do you foster a spirit of thankfulness in your home? We’d love to hear your suggestions!