Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to focus on things we are thankful for and a great way to get kids sharing about what they appreciate. As I’ve wondered how to teach my own daughter an attitude of gratefulness, I’ve begun asking people how to instill this value.
I asked several mothers, grandmothers, and teachers how they encourage their kids to be grateful, and the stories they shared were heart-warming. The bottom line is that they did more than just tell their kids to be thankful…
1 – Prompt & repeat. Teach your kids to say “thank you” at an early age, and be diligent to remind them when they forget. Spending time with kids gives adults the opportunity to guide their behavior and attitudes.
2 – Model the way. Children notice the example set for them by the influences in their lives. Kids benefit when they see a parent express thanks or write a note of appreciation.
3 – Encourage them to serve. One mom shares that by getting her kids into opportunities to serve others, they learned how it felt to serve ungrateful people and how it felt when people were grateful for what they did.
4 – Don’t give everything they want. When kids have to earn things, they are more likely to be grateful and appreciative.
5 – Celebrate the special occasions. If going out to eat is a special occurrence, then make a point to talk about how special it is. When cooking a favorite meal, make a point to discuss how it is done with love and care. By drawing attention to special things, we can show kids that it is “special” instead of something they are “entitled to”.
6 – Pray with your kids. Thanksgiving is an essential aspect of prayer and by allowing the kids you influence to hear you talk to the Lord, they will see your heart and begin to take on that same spirit.
7 – Teach them to tithe. Tithing and giving offerings back to the Lord is not just a ritual or discipline. Tithing puts our hearts in a position of gratitude for what the Lord had done.
It is clear that you don’t have to be a parent to teach kids to be thankful. Whatever your role, use your influence in the life of children to encourage a grateful heart– more than just at the Thanksgiving holiday!