Gratitude Exercises for Kids – Daily Exercises That Help Our Kids Be Thankful

how to teach your kids to be grateful

It was one of those crazy hard times. A lot was going on. Are you ready for the list that kept running through my head? Here goes, in chronological order: my husband was laid off, he found another job out of state, we moved, we became pregnant with our third child, which came with some pretty nasty morning sickness, and my grandmother’s physical and mental health declined dramatically, (she died about four months later).

grandma

It was a lot of change, really fast, and to top it all off the holidays were starting.

I felt overwhelmed. I hardly had time to cope with everything that had happened. I was down, who wouldn’t be? But I couldn’t show it. I needed to be there for my husband, my children, and especially my mother, who was the only surviving child of my grandmother, and dealing with enormous stressors of her own.

Then, my husband’s aunt issued a challenge.

She gave everyone in the family a small notebook and asked us to use it as a gratitude journal. At Thanksgiving, we would take turns reading excerpts from our days of thanks.

gratitude exercises 2

As I sat down to fill out my first entry,  I had many things to be grateful for, but I had spent so much time counting the things that were going wrong in my life, it was hard to feel the gratitude.

I wrote anyway. I wrote about how blessed we were to find work so soon after my husband was laid off. I wrote about how happy we were to be expecting another baby. I wrote about how good it was to move close to our family just when they needed us the most.

In the midst of turbulence, so many things were right. In the midst of the tears and the trials, the Lord was still in charge. He had a plan.

We only needed to see the beauty and to give thanks. Since that time, I’ve made an effort to teach my kids to be thankful.

Over and over, studies show that being thankful and being happy are linked. So, at our house, we treat gratitude like a muscle, and we exercise it.

Every morning, while we’re eating breakfast, I ask the kids gratitude questions.

These are questions designed to help their little minds make the connection between happiness and gratitude. Often, children will say the same things over and over when asked what they are grateful for, and that’s OK, but these questions are designed to help kids find deeper answers, to understand what it means to be thankful. I try to bring each discussion back to the topic of gratitude.

For example, this is an actual conversation with my daughter,

What is your favorite thing to do outside?

run

What do you need to run?

“My legs and my feet, and I need energy to run.”

So, what are you grateful for?

“My energy? And you know mom, I am crazy to tell you this, but I can have energy for sixty hundred million years!”

That’s a lot of energy!

“Yeah!”

Are you grateful for all that energy?

“Yeah! My energy can never end!”

Since starting gratitude exercises, I’ve seen a better attitude in myself and my kids. It’s working! I hope you’ll consider trying it out. I’m convinced it will help your families too.gratitude exercises

  1. What is your favorite thing to do outside? What allows you to do that thing?
  2. Name someone who loves you.
  3. Name someone you love. Why? Have you told them that?
  4. What is your favorite game to play? Why?
  5. What is the weather like today? What fun can come from, cloudy, sunny, windy, snowy, rainy, etc. weather?
  6.  Imagine if we didn’t have a house, what would that be like?
  7. What is your favorite animal?
  8. Name two things that make you happy.
  9. What is your favorite body part?
  10. What is the yummiest thing you’ve ever smelled?
  11. What is the softest thing you’ve ever felt?
  12. What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  13. Name something you’re really good at.
  14. Tell us about a happy memory.
  15. What is your favorite thing about mom, dad, brother, sister, etc?

These questions have started some hilarious conversations around our house, and we notice if we miss a day. What do you do at your house to foster gratitude? Let me know in the comments! Who knows, your tradition could change someone’s life :)

Kids Cook: How to shape no knead bread dough

kids cook

In 2012, more than one-third of children were overweight or obese in America. Our generation and our children’s generation are not expected to outlive our parents. We need to fight childhood obesity. Our health and our children’s health are in danger. Our kids are less active and in more pain than we were.

And I’m scared.

I don’t want to outlive my kids.

My uncle died when he was in his fifties, nearly fifteen years before my grandma passed away. She was never the same. She said it wasn’t right, outliving your child.

So, I fight. I fight for my kid’s health.

And I do it by cooking.

Over the next few months, I’m launching a series of cooking tutorials. But, these aren’t your standard, do this then that, tutorials. These tutorials are focused on cooking WITH your kids. I’ll show you not only how to use simple cooking techniques, I’ll show you how to teach those techniques to your littles.

Why? Because if our children understand the process behind the food they eat, then they are equipped to make smart choices now and in the future.

Because when we cook we are in charge of the ingredients. We control the sugar, salt, and oil that goes into the food.

Because if our children understand the process behind the food they eat then they are equipped to make smart choices now and in the future.

Because childhood is precious, and every minute invested in our children is worth it.

Because sometimes everyday moments, like making bread with mom, become the fondest memories.

So, here’s my first Kids Cook Tutorial: How to Shape Bread.

This is a technique I learned from the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book series. In the book, they call it a gluten cloak. The technique is a way to shape wet no knead dough. When I publish my recipe for 1-hour light wheat french bread this technique will be useful.

You will need one ball of no-knead bread dough. I’ll include the link here when my recipe is up on the site.

Step 1: Dust your hands with flour and pat the dough into a ball. Sticky hands are a must!

step 1

Step 2: Use your fingers to press up from underneath the center of the dough. I was so proud of how well my little champ did this step. It’s amazing what kids are capable of with the right combination of leeway and guidance.

Step 2

Step 3: Stretch the dough around itself, turning it until it forms a ball. See the shaggy texture in the photo? That’s because it was turned so many times! The kids had fun :)

step 3

Step 4: Turn the ball over and pinch the bottom together. She’s doing a great job isn’t she? I just showed her what to do, handed her a heavy hunk of dough, and let her get those little fingers moving.

step 4

Step 5: Give each kid bits of dough (as long as there’s no egg it’s harmless if they eat some) and play!

2play

play

You can take the dough, let it rise, and bake it now. Your kids will probably play until the house smells of… amazingness. My kids love making bread with me. They brag about their work when we’re eating the bread afterward.

So, I guess there’s only one more question left.

Are you ready to fight?

Quick Light Wheat French Bread – Ready in One Hour

light wheat french bread recipe

I’m always baking bread. We rarely purchase it from the store because I make it so often. So, when I tell you this is a good bread recipe, you can trust me. It’s fluffy with a wet crumb, just like french bread should be, and it’s ready in one hour. Now, in some circles, this […]

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The One Day At Church That Changed the Way I Mother Forever

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Positive affirmations for mothers

Do not set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. Simply do what you can do, in the best way you know how, and the Lord will accept your effort.

I remember before I had kids. My love for children led me to multiple jobs with kids. Parents often asked me if I was getting my degree in teaching (I wasn’t) and complimented me on my kid skills. I was pretty sure I had this parenting thing wired. There were even a couple of times […]

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Don’t Spill the Blessings! Another Fun Family Home Evening Idea

fun family home evening ideas, family home evenings for small children

Lately my kids are all about the classic game,Don’t Spill the Beans. My two-year-old calls it Don’t Drop the Beans, so cute! If you aren’t familiar with this game, it’s a cause and effect game where you take turns dropping beans into a swinging “pot” but if you put too many beans in the pot could […]

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How any mom can finish her to do list + an easy craft

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63% of professionals use to-do lists, at least according to a linkdn study published in 2012, but, according to the same study, only 11% of those professionals complete them. Can I get an amen to that? As a stay at home mom I have to be self motivated and organized or my home gets chaotic…fast…like […]

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New Year New FHE – Goal Setting FHE for 2016

Even the most humble person can take hope in the invitation to become like the Savior

This Family Home Evening Idea was largely inspired from the talk Our Perfect Example by Henry B Eyring. It’s a beautiful talk and I highly recommend reading it. I love that it takes a commandment that I always found daunting (to be perfect) and makes it feel encouraging. I’m sure that’s what our loving Heavenly Father […]

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Preparing For General Conference – October 2015

birdfruit

Hubby and I were talking about how to prepare our family for general conference. We mainly focused on ways to keep the kids calm so we can hear what’s going on. Hubby suggested a snack for every apostle. I thought it was a great idea and came up with some fun stuff. The plan is […]

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DIY nursing top, or how to make a low tank modest

DIY Nursing tops

Would you believe that this is a nursing shirt? Well, it is! And I made three just like it. I’m in major nesting mode and I need to prepare for the new baby. So I spent the morning making these nursing tops instead of cleaning or boxing, oh, I’m moving in a week. I really […]

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