“Can we be thankful all year long?” asked a little boy when his mother was trying to explain the Thanksgiving holiday. The answer, of course, is not only CAN we, but we SHOULD be.
I thought gratitude was an emotion we should aspire to feel. Actually, to get the greatest benefit, we should think about it as a practice rather than a feeling. According to Katie Hurley, LCSW, a child and adolescent psychotherapist, parenting expert, and writer, when people practice acts of gratitude, they actually feel happier.
This is even more important these days as the coronavirus pandemic is still going strong in most areas of our state. Parents, grandparents, the general public – and, yes, children of all ages – report higher levels of stress and anxiety than in pre-pandemic times. Katie Hurley provides several ideas for helping children learn about and practice gratitude, and feel happier, calmer, and better able to cope.
Here are a few picture books on the theme of gratitude to share with your young child:
From Imagination Library
- Ten Thank-You Letters by Daniel Kirk
- Pass it On by Sophy Henn
- Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena (winner of the 2016 Newbery Medal)
- What is Given from the Heart by Patricia McKissack
- We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
For adults, this set of brief pieces vetted by Psychology Today may be useful.
So, more than just asking family members on Thanksgiving Day what they feel thankful for, consider helping them develop a habit of practicing gratitude every day.
Every day, we are grateful for you, our supporters, partners, and readers. Happy thanksgiving!