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What Does it Mean to Be Grateful? - Conversations to Have With Young Children

We are reminded during this holiday season of our POB Practice: Expressing Gratitude. As a teacher of young children, I use the words “grateful” and “thankful” interchangeably. Children seem to be more familiar with “thankful” around the Thanksgiving holiday, but why not add another word to their vocabulary. I love to have simple conversations with children around this topic, and see where their imagination and reflections lead.

Giving Thanks: A Native American Good Morning Message is a beautiful children’s book that shows we can be thankful for non-tangible things such as the warmth of the sun, the peace and harmony of those in our past and present, the feeling of grass on your feet, and many more. The first step is to bring children’s awareness to what we can be grateful for, then why and how we can express that feeling of gratitude to help our world of peace and kindness.

What is something/someone you love to have in your life? What makes you feel happy? What do you love to do? These are some prompting questions that I ask children. As they may list people in their life, animals, parks, themselves, etc. I help them to label - those are things they are “thankful” or “grateful” for, and I honor each and everything they say. It’s important to also discuss why it’s important to express, to ourselves and to others when we are grateful. Give your child ideas of how this can be done (telling someone verbally, writing it in cards, giving it through gifts, or simply holding that space in your heart). From my wise five year old nephew - give someone beautiful artwork to express your gratitude to them. It will make your heart feel happy, and theirs as well.

Take some time to brainstorm with children the many things they are thankful for and don’t be afraid to ask questions - why are you thankful for that? How does it make you feel? How do you think you may feel if you didn’t have that in your life? Be present in the conversation and notice what comes up for yourself, as an adult. How many moments do we take for granted in our life?

In love and light,


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