Thanksgiving teaches gratitude
        As preparations rev up for Thanksgiving, many of us either travel to see loved ones or welcome them into our homes.

        Kids are masterful at zeroing in on what they donít have and what they think they have to get. Thanksgiving is a good time to challenge that line of thinking - to help them appreciate what they have rather than mourn what they are missing. Since parents have been on the planet much longer, you have a wider perspective than then children. This is a good time to share your wisdom with your little ones.

        Every household chore is an opportunity to serve as a reminder of appreciation. While washing the dishes, focus on gratitude for the meal just eaten, the family members with whom we shared it, and the kitchen in which it was prepared. While making the bed, be grateful for the bed itself. Doing the laundry makes me think about having a selection of clothes to clean, as well as the family members who wear each item. Children will not necessarily see these connections; it is up to us to point them out.

        There are so many different ways that we can share our thoughts on this topic with our children. Here is one of them:

        As the family sits down to a meal together, start with one member and go around the table. Everyone takes a turn to mention something for which she or he is grateful. How many times can you go around the table? The children will delight in hearing that they are on your list! 

        Childrenís contributions to others, either in person or through an organized fundraising effort, can help them adjust their view so that it includes people beside themselves.

        Try this magic fairy approach. Your magic wand touches one possession after another. As it does, your child has to imagine that the object disappears from her life, never to return. What would that be like? Perhaps it will inspire a renewed appreciation for what she has.

        Happy Thanksgiving to all.

        This column has been incorporated and expanded in Teach Your Children Well: A Teacherís  Advice for Parents

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