5 ways to practice gratitude with your child this holiday season

(BPT) - The holidays are a time when gratitude is at the forefront. In fact, gratitude has been shown to help kids and adults practice resilience through tough times by focusing on the positive emotions that come with spending quality time with family and friends. That’s why character education matters. At Kiddie Academy, Character Essentials is a comprehensive character education program for infants through school-age children. The monthly theme for November is “We Are Thankful.”

As you embrace the season of giving, now is a great time to reflect and think of ways to relieve the stress of today’s world and infuse gratitude and thankfulness into your family’s holiday traditions.

Try one of the following five ways suggested by Joy Turner, Kiddie Academy vice president of education, to help you practice gratitude with your children and family this year:

1. Head offline.

Dedicate some time during the holidays to spend offline — no electronics! Cell phones, video games, computers and tablets give short-term happiness. Spending time together making memories is what brings long-term happiness. As a family, share the things that make each other feel happy. Include non-tangible items such as spending time doing activities you enjoy!

2. You’ve got mail!

You may not be able to spend time with every single person you’re thankful for. Have everyone in the family write a thank-you letter to people who couldn’t be there this year. It can even be a note to a friend you’re thankful for who lives far away! Be prepared with stationary or greeting cards and stamps. Then, take a family walk to the mailbox or a trip to the post office after dinner to send them together.

3. Create a gratitude jar.

During your holiday celebrations, invite your family to jot down things they’re grateful for on slips of paper and put them in a jar. Help your child use crayons and markers to make them more colorful and fun. Then, go around the table picking them out and taking turns reading them. Make sure to write the year of when you created the jar — year over year, you can look back on past jars. You’ll have a big collection before you know it!

4. Home is where the heart is.

People everywhere experience the holidays in a different way. Part of practicing gratitude is realizing that there are others who are in need. If you can, safely support a local group that helps people who are experiencing homelessness, or gather food to take to a local food bank. Help someone in your community you know is struggling. Find a local organization that can help you make an impact and engage your child in the critical life lesson of giving back to those in need.

5. The grand finale — dinnertime!

Most people would agree that a holiday centered around food and family is a great way to spend the day. Prepare your holiday meal as a family! Bonding happens during these activities. The act of preparing food with your family is great for your well-being and teaches children to be thankful and appreciative. It also provides a time to reconnect with family and focus on what is important in your lives.

Yes, this pandemic holiday season may have its challenges, but with some resilience and a grateful attitude, your family can still find the "Happy" in "Happy Holidays." You may even create a new gratitude habit that will help your child’s character development. If you run out of ideas or want to practice other key character traits, head over to Kiddie Academy’s website to download the Character Essentials Activity Book.

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