For a few hours on the fourth Thursday of every November, families across America gather to celebrate Thanksgiving in all different ways. Some traditions include watching a parade, running a race, playing a friendly game of football, cooking, eating (and sometimes napping!) together.
It’s common for children to learn about gratitude through this holiday, but there are many more teaching moments that happy and healthy families have shared.
Here are just a few ways that you can strengthen relationships and support healthy youth development on Thanksgiving:
1. Create Family Traditions
If you don’t yet have your own traditions, ask family and friends what they enjoy most about getting together over Thanksgiving (ex: a game of charades, watching old home videos, children performing a play). Be intentional about carving out time for all guests, including the host, to participate.
2. Invite Someone Who Doesn't Have Plans
Be mindful that Thanksgiving may be a lonely holiday for someone you know. Whether it’s your college student babysitter who can’t afford to travel home or a neighbor who doesn’t have family nearby, think about someone you may know that can be included in your celebration.
3. Give Back to the Community
Thanksgiving is a great time to volunteer as a family. Serving meals to others, making and delivering a Thanksgiving basket, or spending time making handmade holiday cards for troops abroad are opportunities to teach the importance of empathy and creating joy for others.
4. Take a Break in Between Dinner and Dessert
Once you’ve finished a delicious and filling meal, make sure to take a healthy break. Stand up and move around before having dessert. Take a family walk around the neighborhood or play a fun game of freeze dance indoors.
5. Go Tech-Free
Designate an area for cell phones and tablets where they can be silenced and off-limits for a few hours. Removing the distraction will help children and adults engage in face-to-face conversations and interactions that strengthen bonds and help everyone to decompress.
6. Take a Deep Breath
Whether you’ve spent the day traveling, preparing food or feeling over-stimulated by family time, remember to take a few deep breaths in the midst of it all. Centering our hearts and minds on what we are most grateful for connects us with the spirit of the Thanksgiving season.