Parenting foster and or adoptive children can be a challenge at any time of the year, but holidays can sometimes seem extra stressful (especially when adverse or negative memories surround previous holidays). Practicing gratitude is a fantastic practice… but, it may be especially good medicine for kiddos (& their family members) who struggle with a light case of holiday blues. *
Practicing gratitude regularly not only helps kids to take a small break, it has scientifically-proven physical and emotional benefits. Gratitude brings happiness, peace, relaxation, love, compassion, enthusiasm, confidence, and a sense of satisfaction with life. All of these emotions reduce the effects of the stress hormone, cortisol – and can improve some aspects of mental health.
Here are some creative gratitude lessons to try with your kids, which will benefit the whole family:
1. Recognize that there are many different ways to cultivate gratitude and your older child will need to have some freedom to explore what works best for them. Let them lead the way by asking them to create a new gratitude tradition for the whole family. This allows for creativity and makes it feel less like a chore.
2. Go at it indirectly by fostering altruism. Helping others or committing “random acts of kindness” leads to a feeling of gratitude.
3. Suggest a family 30-day (or even just 7-day) gratitude challenge and have everyone keep a hand-written gratitude journal where they have to notice at least 1 thing to be grateful for every day. Buy a little journal for each family member to personalize and decorate along with a special pen to make it feel fresh and new. Click here for a link to fun gratitude journal prompts.
4 Create a fun gratitude conversation at dinner or in the car ride between activities. Click here for a link to a conversation starter activity.
5 Challenge the family to a gratitude scavenger hunt and get their technology involved! Click here for a photo scavenger hunt.
What are YOU thankful for? Honoring your gratitude is meant to make you feel GOOD, so be creative and have fun. Make it a family project!
(If you’re managing significant holiday blues – please contact your social worker for advice).