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30 Days Of Thanks

Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson

Celebrations & Traditions

Is feeling thankful something that just gets tacked on to the November holiday? Do you wonder if you can start the holiday season off on a note of gratitude instead of launching straight into a focus on “gimme-tude”? It’s not too late to launch “30 Days of Thanks” in your family.

Make noticing all the everyday goodness of life something you pause to do each day. How you do this depends on the ages of your children and the amount of time and creativity you want to devote to this. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Make a spin-off on the traditional advent calendar by creating a Thankfulness Calendar. This could be just a large wall calendar or something with flaps like an Advent calendar. Each day of the month, help your child think of something she is grateful for that day and then draw a picture, write a sentence, or paste an image onto the space. Younger children will require more help, of course. Older children, especially, should try to think of something different for each day. Can they come up with 30 different things they’re thankful for be the end of the month?

Younger children can also make a book, instead of a calendar. Staple together 15 sheets of paper, folded in half to make a booklet, and draw or write on each page.

By the way, resist the urge to censor your children’s choices or to make any suggestions. If your son is thankful that he killed an alien and achieved the next level of his video game that day, then let him record that. If your daughter “can’t think of anything,” then suggest she just think over her day for a few minutes until something comes to mind. Being thankful is a new skill. Let your kids grow into it.

Preteens, teens and the adults in the household can keep a daily gratitude journal. This could be a written journal, a blog, a Pinterest category, a photo gallery or any other sort of way you can think of to record your good fortune. It’s important to set a good example by participating yourself. It’s not just kids who need to be reminded to count their blessings. Make this a family affair.

Keep the ball rolling by sharing what you each recorded at dinner or before bedtime each evening. Keeping up with this daily and talking about good things helps to make this exercise less a chore and more part of the holiday. You could also share the creative work once a week, maybe every Sunday night.

Finally, be sure to share your family’s collection of grateful feelings as part of the celebration on Thanksgiving Day.

Starting the winter holidays on a thankful note is a good way to preempt some of the commercialism of the time. Enjoy your children and think grateful thoughts each and every day!

© 2012, Patricia Nan Anderson. All rights reserved.

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Dr. Patricia Nan Anderson

Dr. Patricia Anderson is a nationally acclaimed educational psychologist and the author of “Parenting: A Field Guide.” Dr. Anderson is on the Early Childhood faculty at Walden University and she is a Contributing Editor for Advantage4Parents.