What’s a Thanksgiving Walk and how can it help your relationship with your kids?
To answer that question, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine who does Thanksgiving walks almost every school morning with his three boys. Meet Phil Cooper, and his boys Tyson, 13, Paxton, 11, and Gavin,9.
Since July 2019, Phil has been waking his kids up about 30 minutes earlier and taking them on what he calls “gratitude walks” in their neighborhood. He got the idea from a business coach he worked with and knew it was something he wanted to try. At first, it was not easy waking them up and getting them out the door, but he kept with it, and eventually trained them to get up early.
The goal of his gratitude walks with his sons is to get their bodies up and moving to start the day, provide an environment that nurtures communication with them, and create lifelong memories.
As they walk, he asks questions like: What was the best part of your school day yesterday? How was gym class? or What are you thankful for today?
Sometimes he recites a prayer of gratitude with them. There are days when they just walk and may not say much at all. And then there are days when they open up and reveal something about themselves that he might have never heard if he hadn’t provided them a safe and consistent place to express their thoughts.
The gratitude walks have made a difference in their lives, Phil says. Tyson is doing better in school, the boys are closer to me than they were before and we have better communication with deeper conversations. They are not afraid to come to me to talk about whatever is on their minds.
What a great tradition to start this Thanksgiving. If you’ve found gratefulness hard to come by in 2020, what better way to start the habit than by taking your kids out for thanksgiving walks several mornings a week.
It’s your job to lead and influence your kids, says Phil. These walks have given us many opportunities for good communication and learning life lessons, in addition to helping them establish a good habit of exercise every morning.
If your goal as a parent is to raise champions — kids who become compassionate, strong, honest, and full of integrity — then one of your best tools is providing environments where your kids will talk. These types of environments take time because kids are not always in a hurry to open up.
Walks on the beach, hikes in the woods, fishing mornings, daily gratitude walks, and camping are some of the ways that you can provide those environments. Find something your child likes to do for a few hours and start doing it consistently. It will not always be convenient, but the return on the investment of your time will be seen as your relationship with your child grows stronger and as a result, they become happier and healthier.
If you’d like to get some tools to help you become more intentional as a parent, I can help. I have a special coaching program called The Parenting Toolbelt which gives parents 5 tools to help them build strong homes. You can learn more about it here.