Cultivate Thankful Hearts
A recent study found that gratitude is connected to happiness in children as young as five years old. Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to nurture gratitude and create awareness of the source of our blessings. “Give thanks to the Lord, who is good, whose love endures forever” (1 Chronicles 16:34).
Show children your thankful heart. Be a role model of gratitude by thanking God for His blessings. Enumerate your favorite gifts out loud, and encourage children to count their own: God’s love, your family, your parish, your health. Serve the poor. When children are given the opportunity to help others, they become aware of the abundance in their own lives. During Advent, collect gently used toys and clothing and donate to children in need. Let them choose canned goods at the grocery store that you can donate to a homeless shelter or food bank. Put money in the poor box at church on
Schedule a “go without” day. Pick an item to eliminate for a day – screens, sweets, soft
drinks, bread – to increase awareness and appreciation when it is reintroduced. Remind youngsters that many around the world go without each day.
Make it a habit. At dinnertime or bedtime, take turns sharing one reason each of you felt gratitude that day. Be sure to thank God after every one.
Help children to remember that criticizing others is a serious business. “Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive
and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). Better to worry about our own behavior and let others do the same.
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