Most of us have our beloved Christmas family traditions – advent activities, looking at lights, fun gift exchanges, and so much more. But what about Thanksgiving? It is the one time each year that gratitude and thankfulness are encouraged. It is sad that we don’t operate under intentional thankfulness all the time. Would we be less anxious and do less complaining if we were intentionally thankful all year long?! Let’s talk about gratitude, a thankful activity for kids, and how to continue the attitude of gratitude!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16 – 18 (NIV)
The Bible tells us to rejoice, pray and give thanks in ALL circumstances. If we can’t do these things when life is going well, how will we come close when our world is crashing down around us? I think practicing intentional gratitude on a daily basis and instilling that discipline in our children is key!
Thankfulness = Wellness
Not only is daily thankfulness a Biblical command, but it also has proven health benefits. Studies show that intentional gratitude…
- decreases perceived pain and improves overall health.
- allows you to feel less envy, aggression, and resentment. Ultimately you are happier.
- helps you fall asleep faster, sleep better and sleep longer (unless you have children, then you will still likely wake up with the rooster).
- increases your self-esteem and in turn productivity.
- decreases stress.
- can provide a drop in blood pressure.
- multiplies your friends and improves relationships.
- increases optimism and decreases materialism.
The best thing about gratefulness, is that unlike money or power, the effects are lasting. Getting a raise is always exciting, but after awhile you get used to that higher paycheck and want even more.
Increased Gratitude = Decreased Anxiety
According to positivepsychology.com, “by consciously practicing gratitude, we can train the brain to attend selectively to positive emotions and thoughts, thus reducing anxiety and feelings of apprehension.”
🤓NERD ALERT: Gratitude regulates the part of our nervous system (sympathetic) that activates our anxiety response. So by being grateful, we can condition our brain to filter out negative thoughts and concentrate on the positive ones.
To bring it back to Jesus, where we always want to start and end, I’ll leave you with this
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” – Philippians 4:6 – 7 (NIV)
When you feel anxious, pray, be thankful, and leave it at His feet. He will guard your heart & mind. Scripture memorization is also helpful; you can catch up on that post here.
A Seasonal Thankful Activity for Kids
This year, we did our first “Thankful Turkey.” Each evening during dinner, we write something we are thankful for on a feather. For those of us too young to write, we draw…or even scribble. Then, we discuss what everyone wrote and why we are thankful for that particular person or thing. My 4 year old looks forward to this every night and often wants to start early. My 2 year old enjoys writing with a PEN like everyone else. And, they both get so much joy from taping it onto the turkey. Oh to be a kid again! As you can see, our turkey is having a bad feather day, but I’m putting aside my anal retentive characteristics and embracing it for my kids!
My mother-in law actually made this turkey for us and laminated it so that we can re-use it. We make new feathers each year by tracing some feathers onto construction paper, copying them and then cutting them out. If you know a teacher, most of them have access to di-cuts! Want a ready to go kit, this one from Amazon would work. You would still need to get more feathers though if everyone is doing a feather a night.
Alternative Thankful Activity for Kids
You could also do a Gratitude Tree. Same idea, except you write on leaves and either stick them to a paper tree or hang them on a DIY tree (make out of fallen limbs). I’ve also seen some cute naked birch trees of various heights if you want it to be a centerpiece or part of your decor. You can get extra leaves for either idea here.
Two great options for adding a thankful activity for kids (and really the whole family) to your Thanksgiving traditions! You can DIY it to save money or buy it ready to go for convenience!
Daily Thankful Activities for the Family
So, how do we continue the gratitude on a regular basis all through the year? There are so many ways. If you are a journaler, write 3 things you are thankful for each morning and/or night. Each day at breakfast or dinner (whichever meal you consistently eat as a family), make it a routine to go around the table stating for what you are thankful. You could continue to write down your thanks but instead add the slips of paper to a jar. When attitudes are turning or your family is going through a difficult time, maybe struggling to be thankful, pull out a few and read them. OR, add it to your discipline routine – before you can come out of your room, tell me 3 things you are thankful for or 3 things you love about your brother. It’s all about an attitude adjustment!
I hope that your family will find a way to incorporate intentional gratitude this Thanksgiving AND continue it through the year!
Does your family have a fun gratitude activity? Please share in the comments!!