What We'Re Reading: Teaching Kids About Gratitude

DIABETES CARE|Feb.17, 2017

This piece originally appeared on LauraFuentes.com

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many blessings that help us live fully. This year, more than ever, I feel truly blessed to spend more time with my children daily, to have had the opportunity to travel, and to be lucky enough to have our parents close by to spend the holidays.

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Each year, I try to teach my children the importance of living life in gratitude. For me, living in gratitude is part of living our best life and when I partnered with Abbott to share our story as a part of their LIFE TO THE FULLEST. initiative, Thanksgiving immediately came to mind as a time of great importance.

With that importance also comes the bigger lesson: perspective. I can tell them that we are fortunate to have food to eat, a roof over our head, clean water, and most important, each other. However, as you can imagine, this is a difficult task, since having those things is all they’ve ever known.

What my kids don’t know and have never lived through, is the time when mom and dad met while in graduate school, barely making enough money combined to pay the bills and school. Affordable staples like rice and beans, eggs and toast, and slow cooker soups made up most of our meals. Anything outside of our basic staples was considered a luxury, we always accepted invitations to eat at our parents’ house, and “date night” would be replaced by “date lunch” once a month since lunch menus tend to be cheaper.

Now, more than a decade later we look back at our humble beginnings as a time in our life where we were incredibly blessed and happy. We remind each other that we could lose it all tomorrow but still would find happiness within ourselves and our children.

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Each year, during Thanksgiving, we take the opportunity to adopt a few families through our church and fill a box with the Thanksgiving meal staples they’ll need to celebrate the day.

This is our 8th year participating in the Thanksgiving drive, and our oldest kids anticipate the experience of gifting a meal to another family in excitement. I wish I had a camera on hand to capture my kids at the grocery, making sure all items got crossed off the list, and nothing was forgotten. I’m sure you can image a 9 and 8-year-old running through the store, to the next aisle, looking for the items on their list. “It’s like looking for Christmas presents but with food!” exclaimed Sofia.

Once we get home, the kids sort the items on the table and again, check that each box gets the right amount of supplies. “We wouldn’t want to give someone extra mashed potatoes and leave the other family with nothing to eat with the turkey,” said Alex.

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After all the boxes get filled with supplies, we move on to creating gratitude cards. Here, each kid draws something festive on the front of the card and inside, they share kind words of gratitude with the recipient family. It usually starts with “Gratitude is…” and they finish the rest.

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The final step to getting the boxes ready is decorating the outside of the box. Just like a present bears gift wrap, their simple drawings add personalization to their Thanksgiving gift. When they were little, we would make handprint turkeys with their little hands, now that they are old enough to read and write, they can create their own.

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As you can imagine, the entire experience is very positive and a great way for me to teach my kids about gratitude and how it can help you to live your best life.

In celebration of the LIFE. TO THE FULLEST. initiative, I encourage you to visit this website and be inspired by other stories from all over the world where people have their own unique ideas about  how living fully looks and feels. If there’s one thing we all share, it’s that we want to live the best life we can.


I would love to hear from you in the comments below about what things you do to live a full life.  Take the LIFE. TO THE FULLEST. quiz here and share what YOU live for on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #fullosophy. And after you do, let me know!