Those words came out of my son’s mouth when he opened a gift that would never have made his “want” list. At least in my opinion.
He was so convincing, however, that afterwards I had to ask if he was really that thrilled with the item.
His response was amazing.
“Mom, what I was thankful for was the time and thought that went into getting that gift for me. They put forth effort for me. And that made me feel… special.”
How is this kid only… 11?
But when I think about it, I realize he responded in the way we’ve been teaching him to for years. My husband and I have been actively teaching an attitude of gratitude since our kids were babies.
I bet you have, too.
The reality is that as parents, we have SO MUCH to teach our kids. It’s overwhelming at times, actually. But of that long list, imparting gratitude is at the top.
At least it should be.
Because we actually have a lot to be thankful for. Even in the midst of life storms, there are reasons to be… grateful. We can always find things to appreciate.
But sometimes, it’s an intentional decision…
A change in perspective…
And when we teach our kids GRATITUDE, we are setting them up for a bright future. We teach them to see the cup half full. We remind them to look for the good.
Here are five ways to instill a thankful heart in your kids.
1. Model It. Elementary? Yes. But we need to remember that our kids watch us. They do what we do… the good, the bad, the ugly. Let them hear you say “thanks!” when someone does something nice. Tell them how grateful you are for God’s provision.
Tell them how thankful you are for… them.
2. Involve Them. Let your kids help. When you allow them to lend a hand, they’ll feel more thankful. Why? Because they will understand there are those less fortunate. It battles the notion of entitlement.
Maybe they help you bake cookies for an ailing friend or rake leaves for an elderly neighbor. Maybe they volunteer at a soup kitchen with you. Regardless, when you include them in blessing others… you are helping to tender their hearts towards thankfulness.
3. Don’t Feed the GIMMEES. Advertisers get paid the big bucks to make new toys and gadgets irresistible. Their efforts breed a case of the GIMMEES in our kids. I want… I need… I must have become common phrases. And as parents, we make it worse because we give into our kids and buy the latest big thing. But when they get everything they want, their attitude changes from thankful to expectant.
What if we taught our kids the art of… contentment? Because honestly, a content heart is a thankful heart. And on top of that, our children need to understand that God is the only One who can truly satisfy.
4. Keep a Blessings Journal. When good things happen in your family… write it down. When you see God answer prayers… record it. When you see victory in a past struggle… add it to the journal.
What you’re doing is creating proof that God is active in your lives. You are documenting that His plans are to prosper you. Your highlighting all the reasons your family has to be thankful.
Nothing is too big to share, and nothing is too small. So when you or your family is struggling to find that attitude of gratitude, open the journal to remind yourselves.
5. Pray It. God tells us in Colossians 3:17 to give thanks to God. While you may be thanking God all day long for His hand in your life, make a point to end the day by recognizing all the ways you are thankful as a family.
What if you made thankfulness a normal way of thinking — a part of your DNA and the DNA of your kids, too?
How would life be different if gratitude was a 24/7/365 habit in your home?
God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say “thank you?”
©2013 Carey Scott