Inside: Help your kids be more grateful and celebrate what they’re thankful for with this gratitude pumpkin that’s perfect for November and Thanksgiving.
This afternoon, I told my daughter she could have a cookie.
She immediately countered with her, “Can I have two cookies?”
So I reminded her to be grateful that I offered her a cookie in the first place by giving her a new choice: she could have one cookie or zero cookies.
She quickly chose the one cookie option.
And then I just looked at her.
We locked eyes for a moment, and then she said, “Thank you for the cookie, Mama.”
We have to purposefully teach our kids to be grateful for what they have in life.
And while teaching them to be thankful and grateful is a year-long activity, November and Thanksgiving is always a perfect time to really focus on gratitude.
So our family has a daily November tradition where we talk about, celebrate, and write down everything we’re thankful for on our Gratitude Pumpkin…which then becomes the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving table decor.
Why Gratitude is Essential:
When our kids (or us) are feeling low, depressed or just like the world is “unfair,” the quickest way out of the slump is to focus on what we do have. What we are grateful for. What makes our lives great.
Of course, someone will always have more than us. But we will also always have more than others.
Focusing on the good things in our life is essential to a happy life. Related: How to Help an Unhappy Kid Find Inner Happiness (hint: one of the steps is gratitude!)
And in our family, we love to focus on the little things we’re grateful for like Daddy’s chicken and rice dinner, and going to Disneyland, or ice cream.
During a pandemic, focusing on what we’re thankful for is even more essential. So much has been taken away from us. When we focus on the things we’ve lost–time with family, school, time with friends, sports, playdates–we can easily spiral into unhappiness.
And because we’re intentionally raising our kids to be kind, empathetic, and compassionate, we have to start by focusing on gratitude.
Kids who are ungrateful and view the world from the point of view that they don’t have “enough,” will never be able to give away kindness and empathy, and compassion.
They’ll instead be searching for this elusive “enough” and won’t be able to be their best selves or share their best selves with those around them if they’re devastated because they don’t have a Nintendo Switch or the newest bike or the shiny new toy their friends have.
So when my kids are low, and when I’m feeling low, and we’ve had a no good, terrible, awful, very bad day, the first thing we turn to is gratitude:
What is working right?
What do we have?
What about today was amazing?
And in November, every night, we turn to our Gratitude Pumpkin to write down what we’re grateful for as a family.
It’s my favorite November Tradition.
Educators: Want to do this gratitude pumpkin without a real pumpkin?
You will LOVE our printable gratitude pumpkin students can do in class or at home with their families.
Supplies Needed for a Gratitude Pumpkin:
1. Pumpkin (Be sure to buy one before Halloween!!! After Halloween, pumpkins are scarce and pretty hard to find).
OR a fake pumpkin (if you have the room to store them) because then each year you can see what you were grateful for in previous years.
How to Make a Gratitude Pumpkin:
1. Keep your (non-cut) pumpkin on your kitchen or dining room table with a sharpie so it’s easy to remember to write on it.
2. Every evening when you eat dinner, discuss with your family what you’re grateful for.
Related: Want to encourage more gratitude? Use these free Gratitude Kindness Notes. Grab them here.
3. Start at the top of the pumpkin and write, “We are grateful for…” or “We are thankful for…”
4. Every evening, add a few things you’re grateful for, writing in a spiral around the pumpkin. In our family, we each add 1-3 things every night.
5. We start with the super important things we’re grateful for like our family members.
6. After we get through the important things, we start adding the fun and silly things we’re grateful for like coffee, Alexa, and family movie nights.
8. We place our Gratitude Pumpkin on our Thanksgiving table as a centerpiece.
If you celebrate Thanksgiving with several families, invite them to join you in this November tradition and bring their own Gratitude Pumpkin to decorate the table too.
Want other Thanksgiving Activities?
Make Mayflower cups like the one on our table.
Help Kids Show Their Gratitude by Teaching Them How to Write Thank You Notes: