Teaching Children To Be Thankful

Once again Thanksgiving is upon us and many families will be gathering together soon to enjoy a feast. On Thanksgiving, we often take a moment to tell each other what we are thankful for.  Children usually enjoy getting in on the fun.

But being thankful should be a year-round thing. The Bible says:

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20, ESV).

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, ESV).

It is very important to be thankful even when life is going wrong. Believe me, I know all too well that this is not always easy. I fall short of being thankful when the world around me seems to be caving in.  But our children need to see us being thankful everyday of the year. Many parents try to force thankfulness onto their children, but thankfulness comes from the heart. Just because we make our children say “thank you,” doesn’t mean that they are truly thankful.

I believe that the best way to teach children to be thankful is for us to be intentional about showing thankfulness.  Here are six ways to teach thankfulness to children:

1. Every day make a list of what you’re thankful for and share it with your children. Ask them to list some of the things that they are thankful for.

2. Say “Thank you!”  This may sound simple, but many times throughout the day we don’t thank the people around us for the little things.  Thank your spouse for doing something you asked. Thank the bagger at the grocery store.  Thank the lady who lets you take her place. Just say “thank you” every chance you get.

3. Write a “thank you” note. My husband and I are old-fashioned when it comes to writing “thank you” notes. In today’s technological age, it’s become common to thank people via text messages, emails, and Facebook posts. Children need to know how to make a good old-fashioned “thank you” card. It brings a smile to the giver’s face.

4. Say “Thank you” to your children when they cooperate. Many people get in the habit of saying, “Good job” to their children, which becomes empty praise. Children, including infants, enjoy hearing that you are grateful for their cooperation. It makes them feel good.  Also, tell them every day why you appreciate them for being them!  This will make them want to do things for you!

5. Don’t force children to say, “thank you,” but rather, say it for them until they see how important thankfulness is. We want children to mean what they say!  Don’t worry, all of the children I know who weren’t forced into saying “thank you,” but had it modeled to them on a daily basis, didn’t take long to begin saying it themselves.

6. Thank the LORD every day!  Your children will quickly do the same!

May everyone have a happy Thanksgiving!  See this post on how to make it enjoyable for your children.

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