Monday, November 16, 2015

Giving Thanks

One of the most widely practiced rituals in the United States is happening next week when we celebrate Thanksgiving.  Rituals are connectors.  Children know what activities to expect from rituals, so there is a high degree of comfort and a sense of belonging.  Rituals are soothing and nurturing.  With this holiday in particular, children can get familiar with gratitude.  Here are a few suggestions for deepening the family connections this Thanksgiving:

Children who are involved in the preparations – from planning to shopping to cooking to serving – are invested in the celebration.  They will feel valuable for having made a contribution.  Have a family meeting to discuss the menu, and get feedback from everyone on their favorite foods to include.  You can begin the celebration early with your planning session, and your children not only learn your family’s rituals around food, but they also feel a part of your family team.

Create an activity that encourages everyone in your family.  In one of our parenting courses we practice doing an Encouragement Feast, which goes perfectly with your Thanksgiving feast.  In an Encouragement Feast, you form a circle with one person in the middle.  He faces a family member who tells him one thing she loves [appreciates or likes] about him.  He then turns to the next person, who also tells him one thing.  The person in middle does not say anything in response.  He continues around the circle until everyone has shared.  He then says one thing that he loves about himself.  Someone new comes into the middle and the process continues until everyone in the family has had an opportunity to be “it.” 

You can create a Gratitude Jar by placing an empty jar on a table along with index cards and a pen.  When someone notices an act of helpfulness or feels grateful for something or would like to express something to a family member, he writes it on an index card.  Before your meal, pass the jar around the table and read the cards.

May your Thanksgiving be full of gratitude and encouragement as well as delicious food!

Many thanks to Viva Magazine for allowing us to reprint this article by Maggie Macaulay, MS Ed, of Whole Hearted Parenting.