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We’ve all been there, or have seen it, or heard about it. You break down and buy the really expensive toy the toddler saw at the store, and they love it! That is, they love it for a week, then it sits in the toy box or the closet. What happens then? Yes, you got it! The child begs for more every time you go to ANY store with them and throws a gigantic tantrum if they don’t get it.
I’d like to think that goes away as they get older, but how do you teach kids to be thankful for what they have? If they don’t learn to be thankful, how will that affect them in the future as teenagers and adults? It’s pretty scary when you stop to think about it.
I’m going through the same issues with my kids and put together a list of ways to make kids more thankful. This is a work in progress, and I’ve found some things are great for my son and not my daughter. Consequently, I’ve come up with this printable Thanksgiving journal as a prompt and tool to help get my kids thinking about why we’re thankful.
How to help our kids to be thankful
Kids’ Thanksgiving Journal
Click here to pin it to your Thanksgiving or Kids' Activity boards for later!
In the spirit of the season, a kids' Thanksgiving journal is a great way to help your elementary and even middle school students. Thanksgiving is almost upon us, and rather than focus on giving thanks only that day, build up to it with a kids’ thankful journal. Now, you can make one on your own with a regular notebook or blank journal. In the days before Thanksgiving, have the child write about different things they are thankful for and why. Also, they can draw a picture to go along with each day if they wish.
I don’t know about you, but my kids generally need more direction to help generate ideas and really dig deep and think about it. Therefore, I came up with this printable Thanksgiving journal you can download below. In it, I have a page for every letter of the alphabet. First of all, they have to think about something/someone they are thankful for that begins with the letter of the page. Then there’s a space to draw a picture and some prompts to help them think a bit more deeply.
Kids' Thanksgiving Journal Prompts
First off is the basic:
Tell me about something you're thankful for beginning with the letter A. Why are you thankful for it/him/her?
Second, we dig a little more into the people involved:
Who is it or who gave it to you? Did they have to give up anything of their own to make you happy?
Third, is the action step:
How can you show them you are thankful?
My plan for Thanksgiving
I plan to give my kids a page to do every day leading up to Thanksgiving. However, you could do it all at once or a few every day, whatever’s best for the kids in your life! Then, on Thanksgiving, they will have the journal to share or as a resource when they’re asked the inevitable question, “What are you thankful for?”
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There are many other ways to encourage your kids to be thankful:
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry.
- Buy fewer rather than more toys.
- Make sure you are using “please” and “thank you” to model good manners.
- Stick to a weekly chore chart or list. Have the kids help around the house daily.
- Always give part of the weekly allowance or “commission” to church or to a charity.
- Make presents and cards for others for special occasions. (They love this one)
I hope you try out a kids’ Thanksgiving journal this year if you have elementary or middle school-aged kids. Not only is it a good writing exercise, but it might get them to think a bit too. If you do complete it, please let me know how it goes for you!
“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” Marcus Tullius Cicero
As I said, this is a list in progress for me. Do let me know if you have an easy way to help teach kids to be thankful, and I’ll add it to my list to try with my own kids. I hope we are all thankful for the many blessings we’ve been given. From thankfulness comes so many other virtues. It’s not always easy, and I know I often have to stop and think about my motivations, but we must always keep trying.