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How to Be a More Thankful and Gracious Parent This Thanksgiving (And Every Day After)

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Yesterday on the way home from school, Coraline said out of nowhere, “Mom, you know what I’m thankful for? I’m thankful for the bouncy place.” I’m guessing that they talked about Thanksgiving and being thankful at school. It made me so happy to know that she’s thinking about things like gratitude. Last year I blogged about the importance of cultivating gratitude in children and how best to do so. One of the ways — the most important in my opinion, the Golden Rule of Parenting — is to model it yourself. But how do we do that?

Keep a gratitude journal. Every night, write down two or three things in your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as simple as a quiet car ride or the fact that you didn’t have to pay any bills that day. Because you’re consciously cultivating awareness of such moments, eventually you’ll begin to notice them more as they happen — and you’ll have a sustained sense of gratitude and abundance throughout your day.

Try a guided meditation. Close your eyes and breathe out the frustration, disappointment, or longing, and breathe in gratitude for all the things that are going right. Think of it as an exchange: clearing out the negative feelings and filling up on the positive. If anything, the breathing alone will calm your mind and ground you, which always puts us in a more receptive state.

Say thank you to your children for their good behavior and jobs well done. Child psychologists often recommend this as a behavior modification tool: acknowledge and praise the good behavior instead of only calling out and punishing the bad. It will gently direct your child towards seeking positive attention, and like the gratitude journal, will gradually turn your day-to-day awareness to the good stuff.

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

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