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Ways to Teach Your Children Thankfulness and Gratefulness
Thankfulness and gratefulness are not innate skills. They need to be developed and encouraged over time with consistency.
Too often in society we see examples of children demanding things and presenting as entitled to their every whim.
And as much as we don’t like to admit it. This is the fault of the parents. It is our role to teach our children the skills necessary to appreciate all that they have!
Entitlement – as much as we don’t want to admit it, it is our fault as parents. We have to teach our children thankfulness and gratefulness.
Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Manners are important skills to teach our children that can start at an early age. “Please” and “thank you” can be reinforced as soon as your toddler starts talking. I remember asking, “What do you say?” many times before handing over snacks to my children.
As your children grow so can the complexity of manners.
My husband and I enforced, “May I please…” or “Will you please…” for our children when they make a request. We also teach to eye contact and speaking in a clear and confident voice when talking to others.
A great resource for teaching manners and step-by-step social skills is Teaching Social Skills to Youth.
Teach Ways to Serve Others
Serving others is also not an innate skill. When children are young you can teach sharing as a way to serve others. This then can progress into completing chores. (not for allowance but because they are part of the family)
We’ve taught our children to open doors for others as a way to be courteous and serve. This has now progressed to my son taking back other people’s grocery carts.
More formal volunteering opportunities can take place as well.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV) Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
Teach About the “Old Days”
I feel so old every time I say, “When I was your age…” but it is an important reminder for children to realize the benefits they have living in the world now.
This can be as easy as talking to your children about your childhood without electronics. Then work your way backwards. The ease of your life verses the life of your parents and so on.
When our daughter is a little older, my husband is going to be doing a unit study on “Little House on the Prairie.” This will be a great opportunity for our children to recognize how much easier their life is today in terms of work and entertainment.
Teach Atrocities of Our World
It’s important for children to know (age appropriately) that the world is not fair. When children are a part of a loving and caring home they can assume that’s what all homes are like. Unfortunately, as adults, we know this isn’t the case.
My children have an understanding that not all children are cared for. They know that some children are harmed. (Again, age appropriately) Upon having this knowledge, my children are grateful for the family they were given.
I don’t use this information as scare tactics or even “You should be thankful because…” But rather we have a natural conversation about the misfortunes and trauma that some people have to endure.
I have also given money to homeless individuals when my children are present. These situations allow for conversations to occur that may not otherwise happen. It is a reminder to them of all they have and are able to take for granted on a daily basis.
We also discuss the life of people living in third world countries. Again, this is a good reminder of how much they have in comparison to so many.
Teach to Tithe and Give to Charity
Important ways for our children to show thankfulness and gratefulness is through tithing and giving to charity.
Take the time to teach your children why God calls us to tithe and the significance of giving with a loving and generous heart.
In terms of charities, there are so many amazing organizations to give to. But it would be best if your child had the opportunity to give to a charity or a cause that is meaningful to them. Allow them to pick the organization. They may need you to help with the research aspect but allow them to pick the topic.
For example, our son is passionate about animals. He would be far more inclined to donate some of his money towards rescuing and helping hurt animals than a foundation for cancer. And that’s okay. That is where his heart is!
Teach to Pray
Thanking God and showing gratefulness to Him is the most important skill we can teach our children. However, without the above knowledge, our children don’t realize all of the ways God has poured out love upon them. We can teach our children the words to say but we need to help them have an understanding so that true thankfulness comes from their heart.
1 Thessalonians 5:16b-18 (NIV) Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I pray that this post helps you to teach your children of the blessing and good fortunes they have so that they in turn can praise and thank His name!
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