Today I’m sharing a few simple tips about teaching children to be more thankful. With Thanksgiving right around the corner and Christmas coming up, it can feel like a challenge to raise grateful children, but it is doable! Teaching your children to be thankful is such an important part of the Christian family life.
Originally written in 2012.
As the mother of five children, I have realized that children are not always as thankful as they should be. In fact, children can be downright greedy at times and you may wonder how it was possible that you gave birth to such a selfish creature.
So, how do we, as moms, teach our children that life is not always easy and they should be thankful for all that they have and that they should appreciate what others have done for them or given them? Here are some easy ways you can incorporate being thankful in your everyday life.
1. Model Thankful Behavior
“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,” Titus 2:7
This may seem like an obvious one, but how often do you remember to say thank you when someone does something for you? How often do you tell your children how thankful you are that have a warm home, or a full fridge, or even a friendly pet?
We should be thankful for all things in this life.
Tonight as you sit together at the dinner table begin a new conversation with the words, “I am so thankful for …” even if all you can think to be thankful for is the fact that your family is together. And remember to be thankful all year round – not just during the holiday season!
related: Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Cards
2. Let Your Children Contribute
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Kids like to feel they are contributing something worthwhile to others. Whether it be helping you set the table, or baking cookies for a neighbor, or raking leaves for an elderly person, children will be more thankful if they feel they are helpful to others.
A good lesson can be learned from volunteering time at a local soup kitchen or other charity. It never hurts for children to realize there are others who are less fortunate than they are.
“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:6-8
Encourage your children to use their God given talents to help others and give back to their communities.
3. Don’t Bombard Children with Too Much Stuff
“And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15
Kids are like sponges. They will grab up as much stuff as they can. Has your child ever had a case of the GIMMES? Once they get it, it can be a hard task to change their selfish attitude to one of thankfulness.
One word: PURGE! Give excess to the needy.
It’s important that children learn from an early age that money isn’t easy to come by and that sometimes we don’t get what we want. It’s okay to say to no to your children – in fact, they need you to say no sometimes. Your children do not need to have everything they want.
4. Encourage Your Child to Keep a Gratitude Journal
“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Psalm 7:17
Keeping a written record of things you are thankful for has been shown to make us feel happier and more grateful for the blessings in our lives. Our kids can benefit from this too! Teaching your child to be more thankful is easier when they are actively considering their blessings.
I have several options for gratitude journals for kids in my shop! Here are a couple of them:
You can use a gratitude journal for kids before breakfast in the morning as you sit at the table together or as part of your evening routine. This is also a great activity to begin your homeschool day with.
Whether you use one of mine (available in my shop) or a simple notebook, encouraging your child to think about his blessings is a great way to help teach your kids to be more thankful.
5. Keep a Family Blessings Journal
“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Psalm 107:1
Record happy events, fun memories and other notes in the evening during or after supper. Or you could do this during family worship. From time to time reread the entries.
It’s a great way to see how God is working and answering prayers. It’s like a record of His goodness in your family.
Free Printable Gratitude Journal Prompts for Kids
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