November 3, 2020 — By Wendy Sachs

As Thanksgiving approaches, we usually are talking about all the things we are thankful for this season. This year feels very different. It is not easy to be thankful for endless zoom calls instead of being with people. It is not easy to be thankful for always staying at home instead of gathering with family and friends to celebrate!

However bad it might feel right now, how we frame this for our children will make a lasting impact in their lives for years to come. As obstacles come at you, mindset is a huge factor in how you will overcome these obstacles.

Mindset is how you view things, how you focus your mind. It is not easy to think about right now, but the challenges we are facing right now are also giving us new opportunities and gifts.

For example, we are very sad to not be able to travel the way we want this season. It is easy to be angry and sad about this. However, there is another way to look at this. We could be happy about the chance to stay home and try something different. We could look for chances to experiment with new recipes we have always wanted to try. We could see this as a chance to have the kids dream up a fun theme meal or celebrate with a new tradition. It’s all in the way you view things.

Developing grit and a positive attitude starts with us demonstrating the ability to have the right mindset. We can show our children, by our own actions and words, that challenges have the power to get you down or to give you opportunity.

Framing things in new ways doesn’t mean sweeping powerful emotions under the rug. It’s important as we change the focus to acknowledge the truth that we may feel sad. But in the sadness is where we find the seeds to plant a new vision of what is possible.

To be more concrete about things, younger children may enjoy a vision board where they can draw pictures or collect inspiration. This is something the whole family can add to over time to help with idea creation.

Another great way to help focus the mindset is to remember times that you or the kids have conquered a tough time. Share with your kids how you overcame a problem at work or some tough time in your childhood. Share how it felt and what you learned when you were on the other side. Challenges often feel enormous to children. When you help them remember how they have faced tough things down previously, it will help to keep things in perspective.

If it is hard to look at the big picture, you can try breaking it down. If it all seems like too much, make a list of all the parts then tackle them one at a time. Missing out on Christmas?? Maybe you are sad to drive to Grandma’s house. You are sad to not have cookies. You are worried about not seeing your cousins. Ok, now if you can’t leave town to visit Grandma, this year you can do a drive by lights exhibit in your hometown that you always miss. You can bake cookies with Dad who is home from work this year. You can write letters and send a special gift to the cousins. Maybe you start something new- a Christmas dinner that is made up of all Italian foods- a family favorite! Breaking down into details makes it easier.

Last but not least- make gratitude a daily habit. Try sharing one thing that you are thankful for each and every day. Even if all you are thankful for is that you had a good cup of coffee! Sharing with the kids the idea that there is always SOMETHING to enjoy in each and every day will help them develop that positive attitude we all need.