We are creatures of habit. Once a habit takes hold, it sticks around indefinitely.

As parents we have a great responsibility to instill good habits in our children. We teach them to bathe, brush their teeth, wash their hair, use the toilet, eat at regular intervals and sleep at night. We teach them to share their toys, listen to adults, and go to school.

We teach them how to live.

We teach them everything.

So what about gratitude?

Do we teach them how to be thankful? New research shows that an attitude of gratitude improves emotional and physical health and strengthens communities and relationships. Fostering such an attitude in children sets them up for a life of greater possibility.

This holiday season, decorate your house with a gratitude tree that encourages children to ponder their blessings not only as they make it, but every day as they see it.

What you will need:

A vase

Cut tree branches

Pens or pencils

Colored paper

Scissors or shape punches

Hole punch

DSC_0634DSC_0633DSC_0588DSC_0619The simple process:

1. Arrange a bouquet of branches in a vase.

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2. Work with your children to brainstorm what they are thankful for. I like to start this off with general examples (family, home, sunshine, friends, food, holidays) and get more specific as we dig deeper (pumpkins, scented candles, walks in the neighborhood, lollipops, daddy’s job, mommy’s business, sugar cookies, Christmas trees).

3. Either cut the paper into shapes or use shape punches. On each shape, write something you are grateful for.

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4. Use the hole punch to make holes for hanging. Hang the paper shapes on the branches and enjoy!

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Lucy Robinson

Lucy Robinson

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Lucy Miller Robinson is a walking oxymoron. She is a mother who thinks she can work at home and a hippie with a penchant for leather. When she’s not writing novels, blogs, short fiction or poetry, she might be paying attention to her business, Herbal Philosophy Teas, which she founded upon the belief that Mother Nature is mankind’s greatest chemist.