Despite having been socially distanced this past year, life at times, has still felt crowded. Children have transformed our homes into schools, spouses have set up offices in bedrooms and pets have become way too comfortable during zoom meetings.
There’s no room to sit. No room to pace. No room to rest. And, no extra space! Ironically, a few months before the pandemic, I authored a book called, “A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale,” which is my take on a classic Yiddish story.
In the book, Farmer Earl has had enough—his home is too crowded! So, he visits the wise woman in town for help. She tells him to bring all his ducks in the house. Then all his horses. And all his goats too! How will there be more room with all these animals? As the saying goes, “things could always be worse” so appreciate what you’ve got.
My updated folktale uses humor to explore what it takes to gain a new perspective and be grateful. Plus, there’s a toilet paper scene, which is perfect for Covid!
Dawn Rostoker-Kiron, a LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), says, “If you write something down that you’re grateful for everyday, you will feel less stressed.” We should teach our children and students that while we can.
How To Start Talking About Gratitude
Earl’s story is a great jumping off point to start the gratitude discussion. According to a 2019 study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies, gratitude is linked to happiness in children by age 5. This means that instilling gratitude in your children at a young age could help them grow up to be happier people.
One way to do this is by encouraging kids to keep a gratitude journal. Remember that they can be thankful for anything (toys, a pet, their family) as it is not what they are thankful for, but that they are learning how to express gratitude that matters.
There is a teachers guide that provides some extra help in getting started, as well as coloring pages, which offer another form of expression.
There has been a lot of talk this year about silver linings. Maybe it’s that a family member traveled less for work, the fact that you’ve finally gotten everyone to sit down at the dinner table together, or that sweat pants are not only tolerated, they’re celebrated. Helping children discover these examples through writing, drawing or discussing not only helps them learn to be more grateful, but gets them to view tough situations from a different, more positive perspective.
Multi-award-winning author of many picture books with hundreds of thousands of copies sold. Farmer Kobi’s Hanukkah Match, was named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist and was awarded the 2016 Outstanding Children’s Literature Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association. She is an active member of SCBWI, and has twice co-chaired the Rutgers University Council on Children’s Literature’s One-on-One Conference. Karen is also a co-founder of The Book Meshuggenahs.