Teaching Our Children to be Thankful

Thankfulness can sometimes elude us.  In a world filled with negative news and frustrating situations, we can become bogged down by it all.  Maybe that is why God instructs us to be thankful, because it is often something we consciously have to do.  But just as being negative leads to being more negative – being thankful leads to being more thankful.  It is a mindset we can control and a mindset we can teach our children.  That is good news!

Showing appreciation to our children in our daily lives sets the tone in our home -one of thankfulness.  Of course there are the “golden rules”, saying “please”, “thank you” and “you’re welcome”.  But there are other ways to add thankfulness into our daily life.

  • First and foremost (and this is a hard one), you must learn to say “No”. A child whose every whim is indulged, and every request is granted, loses the ability to express gratitude. They assume that being given everything they want is how the world works, and it’s hard to be thankful when you’re given everything you want all the time.
  • Enlist their help in making soup or cupcakes for someone who’s ill or in need. Take them along when it’s delivered. Be sure to praise their efforts as the work is in progress, and then in front of the family member, friend, or neighbor who is the beneficiary of the gift.
  • Don’t just allow them to help, show you’re thankful for their assistance. It’s hard to watch a child make a mess when they help out, and really easy to take over for them halfway through. But by allowing them to help, and to complete the task, you have reason to say “thank you,” and they begin to connect the effort they’ve just gone through with the gratitude you show.
  • For the older children, have them write thank-you cards. For the younger ones, have them talk to you about what they love about the gift, and show them what you’re doing as you write out the note and then let them sign it. Talk to both older and younger kids about how they feel about the gift. This gives the older child a way to start writing, and helps both connect the pleasant emotions with the necessity to express their joy to the gift-giver.

Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Thankfulness is a way of life for the believer.  It is not always easy, but as we live a life of thankfulness we bring our children right along with us.