A lot of organization and planning goes into preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday. Parents have a lot on their mind, from ensuring that travel arrangements have been finalized to purchasing and preparing for the dinner feast. It can be a hectic time period for everyone involved and as a result, easy for something to slip through the cracks or for people to forget about the real meaning of the holiday. Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge and be thankful for who and what you have in life. Parents attempt to do their best to make sure that they are raising attentive and considerate children year-round, not just for when Thanksgiving comes around. Here at the Nanny Authority, a domestic staffing agency that places nannies with families nationwide, our nannies and parents practice various tips and strategies that help motivate kids to count their blessings all the time. These suggestions include:
- Model and teach gratitude: The first step in teaching gratitude is being an adult that children can and want to emulate. As with all things, children look to their parents for guidance and behaviors to model. Since parents can’t always shadow their children to ensure that they’re doing the right thing, it’s important to have reputable role models that they can interact with during the day. Parents should make it a point to meet your child’s teachers during parent-teacher conference time since your kids will be spending a substantial amount of time with these role models. If you can’t take time off of work, try to schedule an alternative arrangement, perhaps a phone conversation or a meeting prior to the beginning of the school day. Parents that hire a nanny want to make sure that they feel comfortable engaging one that will teach their child the appropriate values and behaviors to follow.
- Recognize the helpers in your life: Not all parents are afforded the opportunity for a flexible work-life schedule, and that can make it difficult for them to take their children to and from activities. With the assistance of a caregiver, children can continue to pursue various interests and hobbies. Here at the Nanny Authority, we often employ college students who are taking child related educational courses and are seeking after-school work to provide coverage for working parents. Arranging part-time nanny services help ensure that someone is around for after-school pick-up, navigating a social schedule, and assisting with homework. Parents may want to take the time to discuss with their child ways that he or she can express their appreciation to his or her caretaker. A thoughtful thank-you card or a handmade keepsake is a simple act but one that shouldn’t be underestimated. It is also good to get him or her in the mindset of writing thank-you cards for a birthday present or a nice gesture. Have fun, age-appropriate materials such as colorful construction paper, crayons, markers, etc., on hand to assist with the project.
- Teaching positive self-growth: Volunteering in the neighborhood or at the local community center encourages children to learn about the importance of giving back to the less fortunate and empathizing with others. If your kids are too young to volunteer, other ways to lay the foundation for a solid work ethic are to assist with chores around the house, such as putting away toys after playtime or helping with animal care. Families can organize a monthly “simple acts of kindness” calendar. Children can discover ways to contribute to the community and the calendar can strengthen familial relationships since it is a joint project.
- Savor positive experiences: As parents, our natural instinct is to shield children from negativity. Unfortunately, there is no way to do this nor should we. Overprotective parents can increase their child’s risk of developing anxiety later on in life, leaving them unprepared for the stressors that he or she might experience. However, what caregivers can do is teach their children not to dwell on negative experiences but rather focus on the positives of a situation or conflict, encouraging him or her to look at the big picture. One of the ways to do this is to have a reflection journal. Prior to bedtime, children can write out their feelings in it. Journaling their thoughts can lead to better observation skills, stronger conflict resolution abilities, and a chance to be appreciative for the good in their lives.
It’s important that children have capable role models in their lives to take after. These role models include parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers that can assist in teaching them how to be thankful.
The Thanksgiving holiday serves as a reminder to make sure that we are raising grateful children who will be empathetic, kind, and compassionate toward other people.