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Thanksgiving teaches children lifelong skills

by Carol Ann McAfee | November 21, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Children would love to help in the kitchen. Thanksgiving can teach cooking skills. - Submitted photo

The air is crisp, and the leaves are falling. Pies are coming out of the oven and the turkey is being carved. Thanksgiving time is here! Family and friends come together over a meal and express their gratitude and blessings of the year. This is a great opportunity to teach your children life skills that they will carry with them forever.

Thanksgiving can teach gratitude. Gratitude is the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves.

Compassion and empathy can be taught through this holiday, as well. Thanksgiving is a time that many people participate in community service projects. Compassion means we care about others, treat them with kindness, and feel a strong desire to help people in need. Compassion is empathy in action. This Thanksgiving, if you can, donate your time and even food to those in need. For children, compassion can be as simple as like giving a hug, making a card, or saying something kind to help a friend or family member who is feeling sad or upset.

Thanksgiving can teach conversational skills. Try an "unplugged" Thanksgiving dinner this year. If you're at the dinner table with other people, you have a moral responsibility of making them not feel like they're eating alone, say etiquette experts. Sharing a dinner table with your family and friends is not just about eating. In this fast-paced world, it's often the only time when you're all in one place. Psychological experts say that having at least one meal a day with your loved ones can help you strengthen ties and build better relationships. On top of that, it also enables you to build a sense of belonging, which leads to increased self-esteem. Dinner time can be your chance to be a role model for children. When you're not on your phone, unaware that you're sitting at a table with other people, it will engrave polite table manners and healthy eating habits in children. Research studies show that children who eat meals with their families have a significantly lower chance of engaging in high-risk behaviors like violence and substance abuse. And apart from that, it's also good for their mental health.

Thanksgiving can be a time to teach your children proper etiquette. If asked to a Thanksgiving meal, ask the host if there is anything you can bring. Include your children with deciding on what to bring whether that be a side dish, drinks or even flowers. We can't forget about proper etiquette at the dinner table. Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth. Pass food items to the right (i.e., bread, salad dressings). If you are the individual starting the passing of the breadbasket, first offer some to the person on your left, then take some for yourself, then pass to the right. After the meal, encourage your children by asking them to help clean up.

Children would love to help in the kitchen! Thanksgiving can teach cooking skills. Have your children help create the menu. I know that kitchens can be crowded and hectic, but try to have your children help by measuring ingredients, stir mixtures, and help with the cleanup. They will have a sense of accomplishment and might even try dishes they would not normally like, because they had a hand in making them.

4-H Information

There are several 4-H clubs for Garland County young people who are 5 to 19 years old. For more information on all the fun 4-H activities that are available, call Carol Ann McAfee at the Extension Office at 501-623-6841 or email her at [email protected]

Master Gardener information

Master Gardener meetings are held on the third Thursday of each month at the Elks Lodge. Meetings are open to the public and guests are welcome. For more information, call Luke Duffle at the Extension Office, 501-623-6841, or email him at [email protected]

EHC information

Interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? EHC is the largest volunteer organization in the state. For more information on EHC, call Alison Crane, family and consumer sciences agent, at 501-623-6841 or email her at [email protected]

  photo  Carol Ann McAfee - File photo by The Sentinel-Record

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