Updated: November 9, 2022
By Brooke Weber, content writer
It’s almost that time again: Time to think about food, family, friends and giving thanks!
Indeed, a Thanksgiving get-together with family and loved ones allows you to reflect on all you’ve been grateful for in the past year. For example: Are you thankful for your family’s warm presence? Are you grateful for your child’s yoga teacher?
Whatever happens to be on your mind this Thanksgiving season, now is the time for you and your children to start practicing gratitude.
Gratitude helps you notice more good in the world – when you practice being thankful, you’re more likely to feel better about things in your everyday life.
Whether you’re a busy parent or a yoga teacher, you can help your children or students understand what thankfulness means so they can mindfully consider what they’re grateful for.
Read on to learn 5 ways to teach kids about gratitude.
1. Make a list of those who have helped you through this year.
A great place to start with learning about gratitude is pinpointing just who you’re thankful for! Sit down with your little ones or your students and brainstorm a list of people who have helped you since last Thanksgiving. This can be anyone from a favorite actress to your local mail carrier – think big and small and everything in-between. You can start with five people and then expand to ten and beyond if the kids are really into it. Then, encourage the children to share why they chose the people on their list. In what way did they help them out? How did that make them feel? This introduces kids to the concept of gratitude as a feeling of thankfulness for something or someone else.
2. Take note of the little things. Literally.
This one is particularly good for families. Encourage everyone in your household to notice the things they take for granted and write them down on sticky notes or pieces of scrap paper. You can notice things that members of the family do for one another, like preparing healthy meals and snacks, folding laundry or sharing new things that they’ve learned. You could also record material things or joyful aspects of your day, like your home, your favorite meal or the TV shows you watch together every evening. This provides your little ones with real-life examples to help them build up the idea of “gratitude,” and it also teaches them some ways to express that idea. The best thing about this tip? You can gather together all of your thankful notes and store them in a container to look at on a rainy day. It’s a gratitude exercise and a positivity tool all in one!
3. Pay it forward.
Whether you write a thank-you note to a friendly neighbor or donate some money to a worthy cause, extending gratitude beyond the home will teach your little ones that acting on thankful feelings can make others feel good, too. This can even become a brand-new Thanksgiving tradition for your family! In a kids yoga class, you can also pay it forward by incorporating activities like writing thank-your notes or coloring in Thanksgiving pictures for students to give to important people in their lives. Then, the kiddos can take a moment to mindfully reflect on how it felt to do something nice for someone else, ensuring that the cycle of gratitude keeps on rolling.
4. Use mindfulness and yoga techniques!
You can try this one out on Thanksgiving day or in a class close to the holiday. Have everyone sit in a circle and take a deep breath. If you really want to go for the Thanksgiving theme, tell the kids that this is an “Apple Pie Breath” – close your eyes, breathe in deeply through your nose like you’re sniffing a warm apple pie and release the breath through your mouth to help the pie cool. Take this time to notice what’s around you in the moment. Then, once everyone’s done two or three Apple Pie Breaths, you can all open your eyes. Encourage everyone in the circle to share what they’re thankful for this year. This step should be easy, especially if you’ve already made your list of helpful people and written your thankful notes. Try taking on the challenge of coming up with something entirely new!
5. Incorporate thankful moments into your daily life.
Don’t let all the gratitude end on Thanksgiving day! Take a few minutes each day to reflect on the good stuff with your family and other loved ones. One great way to do this is to share three great things that happened to you each day, big or small. If you’re a yoga teacher for kids, you can try opening each class with this exercise. Over time, you and your little ones will train your brains to think positively and look on the bright side without even thinking about it. It’s like getting a taste of Thanksgiving every day of the year!
Do Yoga with Kids!
And remember: Kids yoga is a great way to notice and focus on what you’re thankful for in life. Whether your little ones are learning ways to keep up their mental and physical health or you’re the instructor leading them along the way, yoga for children can benefit all of you.
Teach Kids About Gratitude
No matter how you’re celebrating, all of us here at Pretzel Kids wish you a happy Thanksgiving. If you and your kids are having a hard time thinking of things to be thankful for, that’s perfectly okay – but we hope that this list has helped you brainstorm a bit!
Brooke Weber is a content writer for Pretzel Kids.