Building Gratitude Into Your Kids

Who doesn’t want a grateful kid?  Every parent longs for their child to show appreciation for the kindness extended to them- whether by friend, family or stranger.

But a thankful heart is not something that happens by accident.  It takes teaching, nurturing and consistent practice. When Thanksgiving rolls around, we’re prone to reflect on the good gifts that God has given us.  Below are some considerations of how you can practice showing gratitude with your children and train them to have thankful hearts:

  • consistently teach toddlers and preschoolers to say thank you whenever a kindness is done to them.
  • when praying together (at meals, bedtimes, etc.), make it a priority to thank God for His kindnesses shown to you that day
  • create a poster, visible to everyone, where each member of the family can write down why they are grateful.  Make it colorful- even your smallest children will enjoy listing off and drawing things that they are thankful for.
  • make it a regular practice to write thank you notes to people who show you a kindness- whether a gift or service.  One mom even suggested not allowing kids to play with new toys until the thank you note is written!! (Way to go, Mom!)
  • be quick to draw attention to answered prayers and God’s provision.  Keep a list in a journal for yourself and/or a visible list or poster for the family to celebrate together.
  • praise God in the moment when you- mom or dad- are thankful for God’s activity in your life.  Impromptu praises show your kids that God is at work all the time and not just within the walls of a church or at certain times.
  • memorize bible verses that talk about giving thanks, such as Psalm 9:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, or 1 Chronicles 16:34
  • most importantly, regularly express your gratitude to God in front of your kids for God’s work of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ!

As Mom and Dad exemplify gratitude to their kids and give them opportunities to join in the blessings of a thankful heart, children will rise to the occasion and learn to be grateful, too.  November is a great time to purposefully up our thankfulness game and deliberately practice thanksgiving.

What are some ways your family practices gratitude?  Please, share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions in the comments below!