Teach Your Kids to be Truly Thankful
From the time our kids can speak, we teach them to say those two polite words, thank you. When they have a birthday party, we tell them to say thank you after they open each gift. When their sibling shares a toy with them we ask, “What do you say?” Thank you. Perhaps they just went trick or treating, and at each house you asked, “Did you say thank you?” Hearing them say these two words gives us such great accomplishment or satisfaction. We tend to think if our kids can say thank you they will grow up to be nice people.
Kids are often taught an attitude of entitlement and not thankfulness. Maybe they think the server at the restaurant should get their food because that’s their job. Or even more close to home, you, their parents should buy them lots of Christmas presents because that is what parents do. Teaching them to be thankful in the big and small things is often a challenge.
So, how do we help our kids know that these are more than just words? How do we teach them to say thank you with their words but also mean it with their hearts? How does thankfulness become part of who they are and how they live their lives? I propose to you some ways to help our kids see thankfulness as more than just two magic words. Perhaps these things ring true in your own life and helped you see thankfulness. Or perhaps they will also help you to examine your heart of thankfulness.
Kids learn most things, good and bad, by example. They have the best little eyes and ears that see and hear everything. They walk like us, talk like us, eat like us, and so much more! So first consider yourself—are you truly thankful?
In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 it says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Being thankful in ALL circumstances is difficult. The world around us seems to be shutting down again. Let’s be real—we dislike COVID! But isn’t it often the hard circumstances that really develop a sense of thankfulness in us? How can we still display thankfulness in hard circumstances? How will our kids remember your thankfulness in ALL circumstances?
Like most things, we have to exercise, or do them often, to make them part of our life. Your body doesn’t get stronger without physical exercise. Your mind doesn’t get stronger without mental exercise. And thankfulness is no exception. A child must exercise a heart of thankfulness to get one. I often think that David tried to exercise thankfulness as the Psalms are filled with verses on giving thanks. Psalm 9:1 says, “I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Perhaps this Thanksgiving you can recount all of God’s wonderful deeds with your kids.
Here are some practical ways to help your kids exercise thankfulness:
As you strive to teach your kids to be thankful this Thanksgiving, let this holiday be a starting point and continue it all year long. Don’t just be thankful on this holiday.
As you teach them what to be thankful for, always point them to God, the giver of all things. And don’t forget to preach the gospel to yourself every day! This will change your perspective and cause you to have a thankful heart.