I am acutely aware that many families are hurting right now. The Coronavirus has claimed the lives of over 250,000 Americans and caused financial havoc for millions more. Even while recognizing this devastation, we can still acknowledge our own disappointment at missing family, friends, and traditions this Thanksgiving. As many of us continue social distancing and cope with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, it is tough to stay positive. That said, remembering to count our blessings can help.

In so many areas of parenting, we are encouraged to lead by example, especially during this unprecedented period; but what does that mean for interactions with young children?

Here are three tips on how to teach your family to appreciate the people, experiences, and things in their lives. (They are good reminders for us too!)

  1. Count your blessings out loud, whether acknowledging the blue sky and birds singing in the morning, or the special kindness of a family member or friend. Do a “go-round” at your Thanksgiving dinner, asking each person to name something they are thankful for. Make it a memory game, where each person lists what was said before, then adding what they are thankful for.
  2. Establish rituals, such as a nighttime recap, taking turns at bedtime describing what you liked best about the day. Make a “top five reasons why I like _______ list” (fill in the blank with the name of a person, place or thing). Kids love lists and rituals.
  3. Demonstrate your gratitude, let children know when you are sending a thank you note or email to family and friends. Pull out that rarely used (in the age of electronic communication) box of stationery or better yet, help them to make thank you cards for gifts so that they also have opportunities to show theirappreciation in concrete ways..

Children are natural imitators. When you demonstrate your appreciation for the people and things in your life, you are giving them a blueprint for showing gratitude; a gift in itself.