Grateful Expectations

By: Shannon Shull

I recently read an article in a magazine that discussed the importance of fostering a thankful attitude in children. If our children don’t absorb the value of thankfulness from us parents, teachers, mentors and coaches at an early age, then who will it come from?

The ability to be grateful for the good things in your life is an important part of a person’s character. If us adults show and share our own thankfulness, hopefully the children in our lives will learn to do the same and even be a healthier individual for it!

When we have a tough day, those of us who are optimistic tend to remind ourselves that it could always be worse and that compared to some, we have it made. I think if we take the time to recognize the good in our lives instead of giving so much weight to negative aspects, we can think ourselves into positive health, which will eventually allow more positivity to come our way. The mind-body connection is so incredibly strong! I know that if I repeatedly tell myself that I’m going to get sick and focus on not feeling well, then guess what happens? I inevitably get sick! If I tell myself that I will be just fine and focus on strength and healing, I open this amazing door that seems to allow my body to actually get better.

Studies show that positive thinkers are healthier and less stressed. And I betcha they have a lovely effect on those around them too!  So as we strive to be grateful examples to the children in our lives, we can positively affect the adults in our lives, too.  Thankfulness is addictive! And the best part? Counting your blessings is FREE!

So here’s a thought – why don’t we make every day a day to give thanks? We all know that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for all the goodness in our lives, but shouldn’t we take note of our blessings on a daily basis? Here’s a challenge for us all: starting on Thanksgiving, let’s encourage the children in our lives AND the adults to have an attitude of gratitude! Check out these fun family activities you can do to help inspire thankful thinking:

ABC Journal of Thanks

Designate a small notebook as your ABC journal. Have your little ones practice writing the alphabet, and help them draw a picture of something they are thankful for that begins with each letter. Don’t limit this journal activity to just the kids! Set a positive example and do it, too! Have fun cutting pictures out of magazines to represent what you’re thankful for or draw pictures yourself. You will treasure this special ABC Journal and will enjoy looking back on it in later years.

Wreath of Thanks

Transform a bunch of clothespins into a fun way to mark down what you’re grateful for. To make it, paint some clothespins, and once dry, attach them around a wire wreath frame. Cut a heart out of thick cardstock and attach to the center of your wreath. Write, “I’m thankful for…” on the heart and then customize each clothespin with a different moment of gratitude. You can pull out this ultra special wreath every year to celebrate your thanks!

Our Daily Thanks

Make a gratitude calendar. Make a base (you can use foam core or a poster) and use mini craft envelopes or regular small envelopes to represent each day of the month. Each day, every family member puts a note in the envelope describing something they are thankful for.  At the end of the month, entertain each other by opening the envelopes and reading aloud the notes of thanks inside. This will not only instigate conversation but inspire everyone with an air of positivity!

Fabric of Life

Dress your table with a plain tablecloth. Fill a tumbler, large cup or bowl with permanent fabric markers and encourage everyone to write or draw one reason for thanks on the cloth each day. You’ll end up with a linen full of gratitude for your Thanksgiving feast or special dinner.

Sunflower Plant of Thankfulness

Transform a paper plate into a blooming sunflower plant filled with black bean “seeds” and card-stock “petals.”

To make it, paint a paper plate black, then glue black beans to the center of the dry plate. Cut out enough petals from yellow card stock to fit around the rim of the plate. Think of thankful words and phrases to write onto each petal, then glue the pieces to the rim. Make the stem by painting a paint-stir stick (found at the hardware store) green, and embellish it with sticker letters and raffia.

Remember: Don’t limit your thankfulness to one day. Let’s carry out an attitude of gratitude throughout the entire year!

2 thoughts on “Grateful Expectations

  1. Loved your blog post! We both took time this month to post ways to be thankful and I am going to borrow your quote 🙂 I especially liked the gratitude calendar! I am going to use this and can’t wait to read what my family writes as I think it will be a family-fun activityl Thank you for reminding us to be thankful every day and ways to do just that 🙂

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