Every year around Thanksgiving, we hear, “What are you grateful for?” Whether it be asked at the Thanksgiving table, or it is something that hits you after seeing someone post their gratitude online. It is such a broad question and feels very overwhelming to an adult brain, imagine how vast it feels to a child. You can be prepared to share your gratitude with your child this holiday season by using a trick to make it more achievable.
Switch from saying, “What are you grateful for?” *crickets* To, “What is your favorite part of your room? What are you grateful for in your room?” Get ready for the conversation to take flight. We can all picture something specific, whether it be our home, car, park, or children’s museum, and then we start to think about all our favorite things. Making the question more specific centers the question around something real and makes it feel like something you and your child can answer.
Why does this little shift create a conversation starter? Think about it from your own perspective. When you hear, “What are you grateful for?” What happens in your mind? Work, job, house, family, this mac and cheese, the dessert, a birthday gift I can’t wait to give. How do you pick which thing to be grateful for? How do you swim through a lifetime of thoughts and experiences to share what feels like the right thing to be grateful for at this moment?
Children experience the same feeling with those big questions, whether they be around the holidays or at other times. If you expect an answer, give them a concrete thing to anchor on and time to process and answer the question. For example, when asking about school, “What did you do today?”, so much happens in a day, how do you answer, how do you pick only one part to talk about at a time, and where is the best place to start? Instead, questions like, “Tell me something that happened at lunch today,” or, “What did you make in art today?” These have a base and something concrete to focus on and then your child can choose an answer based on the more focused questions.
As you prepare to see family and their excitement to see you, be prepared to add to the questions and support your child in providing an answer and feeling less overwhelmed. After all, we are all grateful for a lot of things, but where do you start answering such a big question?