It’s the time of year to give thanks to our great God! Parents and teachers diligently remind children to say “please” and “thank you,” and those reminders pop up more in this season of thankfulness. But do good manners really teach our children to be thankful?
When children are very young, it’s easy to remind them to say, “Thank you.” But as kids grow up, we want to teach them to say more than a quick thanks; we want to help encourage a thankful heart.
Here are intentional ways to help your children have a thankful heart:
Titus 2:7-8 “In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorrupted, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”
Once again, we are reminded that kids’ number one examples are Mom and Dad.
Make it a point to share what you’re thankful for with them. In this season, you could say, “Thank You, Jesus, for the beautiful fall colors. Thank you for the red and yellow leaves.” Or while you’re getting groceries at the store, say, “Thanks, Jesus, that we can buy this yummy food.” And when you get to school safely in the morning, you can say, “thank you jesus for getting us to school safely.”
By stopping for small moments of thanks, kids will recognize that Jesus is involved in all the details around them.
Serve Those in Need
Ephesians 6:6-8 “Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.”
Serving others is one of the best ways to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness and gratitude.
Take opportunities to serve each other and to serve in your local community. These moments of service teach children the value of service. You could collect canned goods for a food bank, make a meal for a family in need, or raise money for a nonprofit. As your children get older, have them offer their own ideas for ways to serve as a family.
Share your gratitude in a group
Take a moment as a family to share what you are thankful for. At dinner time, Food brings us to the table, but it’s the talk that keeps us there. Go around the dinner table each night and encourage each family member to share something they’re grateful for.
And, if your family prays before dinner begins, you could ask what everyone is thankful for and include that in your prayer.
Encourage thankfulness for relationships.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.”
If we teach our kids to be good friends, chances are they will have good friends and be grateful for that fact. We can encourage them to be thankful for friends and share their gratitude with friends. This might involve sharing a toy with a friend, drawing a picture, or simply saying the words “thank you.”
It is good to teach kids to say, “thank you.” But thankfulness is deeper than those two words. We can encourage thankfulness for the things our kids have, the people who love them, and the investment that others will make in their lives.
And if our children learn to be thankful to and for others, they can learn to be thankful to God. That is the most powerful and important attitude of gratitude, and it will impact every area of their lives.
At Hillsdale Christian Academy, we recognize and thank God, our Father, the source of every blessing that we receive each day.
Psalm 105:5 “Remember his marvelous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;“ (Psalm 100:5)