Children and adults alike can learn how to be grateful for what they have and give back to their communities by teaching them the spirit of giving. Giving is a skill that not only helps people in need, but also teaches kids about gratitude, thanksgiving, and generosity. This blog post will discuss why expressing gratitude is important, the benefits of having a spirit of giving back during the holidays, and provide 5 ways you can teach kids to express gratitude through charitable acts towards others.
Thanksgiving in the United States
Thanksgiving has its roots in the history of British colonization and was first celebrated by pilgrims who had recently colonized America. The Pilgrims, being very religious people, wanted to give thanks for surviving their brutal winter when they arrived in America in 1620. They invited Wampanoag Indians to share their food with them, and both groups were thankful for being alive.
Over time, this holiday has grown from being a religious commemoration of survival to being an official federal holiday in the United States after Abraham Lincoln proclaimed it as such in 1863 during the American Civil War. It was celebrated on different days throughout history, but since 1941 has been annually celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. Now that we understand the history behind this holiday, let’s talk about why being grateful is something we should teach our kids about.
What’s All the Fuss About Being Grateful?
Gratitude is being thankful for what you have, and being able to express those feelings towards others through simple acts to give back and can be very rewarding! Expressing gratitude helps us feel good about ourselves as people who are not just focused on personal gain or pleasure, but also on other people. Being thankful also helps us understand the bigger picture of being alive and how important it is to help others in need, especially during the holidays when people are more inclined to think about giving charitably.
The Many Benefits of Gratitude
Being grateful will improve happiness by being appreciative of the life that you live and being thankful for what you have been given. It also improves relationships with friends, and family members because it makes people want to be around you more due to being kinder which in turn leads to better physical health, being more empathetic towards others, being a generous person, and being able to give back.
Why is it important for You to Teach Kids About Being Grateful?
Studies show that being grateful is something learned, not innate. Children who are raised to be grateful for what they have by their parents and teachers learn about gratitude more than children whose parents do not express their own thankfulness. This is why it’s important to teach kids the spirit of giving back during the holidays because it shows how teaching them to be thankful works.
Children Learn When They See You Being Grateful
Being thankful is important, but it’s even more significant during this time of year when people are thinking about family, friends, feasts on turkey with all the trimmings (or other traditional meals), playing games, being with loved ones, and being thankful for what they have. There are many ways you can teach kids how to give back this holiday season through demonstrating gratitude yourself, being a part of charitable organizations, or donating your time and/or money to help others in need.
Donating Your Time is a Great Way to Express Gratitude
By being a part of charities or donating your time and/or money to charitable causes you can teach children the importance of being thankful for what they have by showing them how rewarding it is to help others in need. Volunteering is also a great way to help children feel empowered, as well as being involved with other good causes and being charitable. Kids love volunteering, especially when it involves something they’re interested in. Some great examples might be fostering an animal from the local pet shelter, delivering gingerbread house kits for Believe in Me’s A Place to Call Home event, or picking up trash in a nearby neighborhood. It just plain feels good to volunteer your time as a way to be thankful.
Model Random Acts of Kindness
Another way to teach kids about being grateful is to do random acts of kindness. Teach your child to be mindful of others and to always be seeking creative ways to brighten another person’s day. Help your child to identify a friend that needs cheering up or a neighbor that’s lonely. Strategize with them to come up with ways you can make their day, such as baking and delivering a batch of fresh homemade cookies, giving them a greeting card with an encouraging message inside, or offering to do some yardwork for them.
If you can’t think of anyone you’d like to be kind to, try it out on a stranger! Leave some extra change in a vending machine, when you’re in the drive-through, pay for the meal for the person in line behind you, let someone go through a line before you, or open a door for a stranger. Modeling these behaviors are criticial in teaching kids how to think of others first and to express their gratitude by paying it forward.
Being Grateful through Self Reflection
Taking the time to sit back and think about all the blessings in life isn’t something we do automatically. In order to teach kids how to do this, it’s important to have frequent conversations to acknowledge the things that we’ve been blessed with. It’s amazing how quickly kids develop the ability to idenify the things they’re grateful for, and it’s not always the shiny new gift they just received from their grandparents. Often times it’s the little things in life that bring us the most joy. Once your kids learn to reflect on their situation and are able to empathize with others who are less fortunate, they’re well on their way to being grateful citizens in the community.
Expressing Gratitude and Thanksgiving
Many times, the blessings we benefit from in life stem from a person who has gone out of their way to do something kind for us. Perhaps they’ve made us a nice meal, baked us a cake, sent us a card, or given us a gift. Show kids the importance of thanking others is another great way to teach them about being grateful. Expressing their gratitude verbally is a great exercise in both self-reflection, appreciation, and healthy communication. When you thank someone, you both feel loved and appreciated. Everyone benefits!
Giving Charitably Helps Kids Learn to Be Grateful
It is important to teach kids the spirit of giving back because they learn how blessed they are and that there are people in the world who have less than they do. Teaching kids about being grateful will improve their happiness. When children give charitably, they are being appreciative of the life that they have and being thankful for what they have been given by giving to those less fortunate. Not only does being charitable help others in need but it also helps a child feel empowered because not everyone is lucky enough to be in a fortunate position to be able to give. Teach Your Kids to Donate Charitably
Charitable giving is a great way to teach your kids how to express their gratitude for what they’ve been given. Giving to organizations like Believe in Me, a foundation for kids is a great place for kids to get started. Donations, regardless of their size or how they’re delivered, are needed to help kids who need a safe place to call home, a family that loves them, a community that supports them, and opportunities to learn, build self-esteem, and have fun. Their mission is easy enough for kids to understand and support. From saving up loose change to making a cash donation to using a smartphone or a computer to fill out an online form, kids can make a donation of any size to help kids who are less fortunate than them.