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A crash course in gratitude for busy families

Lisa Steinke, with Liz Fenton, is the co-author of the debut chick lit novel l'll Have Who She's Having and the popular Chick Lit blog chicklitisnotdead.com.

Creative (and quick!) ways to be thankful

It’s that time of year again: When you need to remember to be thankful. You know you should be working on teaching your kids the importance of gratitude all year — and you try, really you do — but let’s face it, it’s more of a crash course each fall. And that’s OK. There are some very efficient and fun ways to express thanks.

Hang it

Artist and mother Rebecca Peragine has created modern, eco-friendly and culturally diverse wall art, wall cards and posters, full of whimsy, designed to help children learn compassion for our earth and all who inhabit it. It takes no time at all to hang one of the Children Inspire Design prints with messages such as: Say Please and Thank you or Love Your Family and it will remind your child this Thanksgiving and all year round the importance of being grateful for what she has.

Use your phone to App-reciate what you have

We live in a digital age, so why not give a digital thanks? It takes only a matter of minutes to download the Happy Tapper Gratitude Journal app to your phone, then only a few more for you and your little one to come up with just five reasons to be thankful that day. Truth be told, your child will be more motivated to participate because it involves your iPad or iPhone, but the message she learns will be no less important.

Pin it

Log on to Pinterest, type in the word gratitude or thankful and scroll through hundreds of inspirational quotes like these:

  • When life gets sour sweeten it with gratitude
  • There is always, always something to be thankful for
  • Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it

Have the kids help you pick which messages to pin to your board and let it inspire a discussion of what message they'd write and want to see pinned to someone's board. Tip: If you have a few extra minutes, grab a cork board and a piece of paper and have your child write his own message and pin it.

Surprise!

How long does it take to write these words: I'm thankful for you because you are kind to your classmates? Ten, maybe 15 seconds? Surely you can find a minute each day to write your child a note of gratitude, then hide it in an unexpected place for him to find. Put a note in his lunch, attach it to his homework, stick it on his toothbrush. Through your words of love and thanks, he'll learn the importance of gratitude. And who knows, he might also be inspired to leave one for Mom.

Practicing gratitude: Note cards and joy >>

Fill in the blank

Grab a large piece of poster board, a calendar, a chalkboard (or any other creative place you can think of) and write: Today I am thankful for ________. Each day, have your child fill in that blank with something or someone he appreciates.

Tip: Remind him he doesn't have to fill in that blank with heavy duty ideas like freedom or democracy (although those are, of course, important things). He can be grateful for anything — peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or Mommy's kisses. You can do this with your child any time of day that's convenient and at the end of every month, you can reflect back on what was written.

More on gratitude

Practicing gratitude: Name that tune
Practicing gratitude: A healthy reminder
Practicing gratitude: Best books on gratitude

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