Giving thanks should be one of the easiest actions for us—especially as believers. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Sadly, we often pass this cavalier attitude on to our kids, and that can lead to a sense of entitlement. Beyond reminding kids throughout the day to say thank you, here are 5 ways you can help them develop a sense of gratitude.
- Gratitude Pumpkin. Hopefully you didn’t carve all your pumpkins at Halloween! If you have one left, start a “gratitude pumpkin” by encouraging everyone in your family to write something on it that they’re thankful for each day. When Thanksgiving rolls around, you’ll have a beautiful decoration and a great reminder of what you’ve got to be thankful for!
- Thank You Notes. It seems as though thank you notes are a thing of the past. As a matter of confession, I too have been guilty of sending a text or an e-mail instead of a hand-written note. Teach your kids to express gratitude by sitting down with them and helping them craft a brief note for a gift or act of service they received. If the child is too young to write a note, suggest that he draw a picture and tell you the words he’d like you to write for him.
- Gratitude Jar. Decorate a container that will serve as your family’s “Gratitude Jar.” Place notepaper and a pen, markers, or crayons next to the jar for easy access. Invite kids (and adults!) to write a note or draw a picture of something they’re grateful for when they pass by and put the note in the jar. Remind kids that they can write about things that happened as well as material items. On Thanksgiving Day, pull the notes out and take turns reading them. Your family will be reminded of just how much they have to be grateful for! This is a great project to start on January 1 for the following Thanksgiving but, don’t let that stop you from making one now for this year! You’ll be surprised by what can happen in just a few weeks!
- Gratitude Journal. Inspire kids to take time to reflect on the good things around them. Provide a journal so they can record their thoughts and give thanks to God and to others. Journaling can serve two purposes: 1.) Kids will learn to focus on the good things they’re experiencing in the present and, 2.) Kids will have their writings to refer back to when things might not be going so great.
- Nightly Gratitude Check. Before your children go to bed each night, spend a few minutes with them looking back over the day. Challenge your kids to recall at least one good thing that happened during the day. You may need to suggest ordinary happenings that are sometimes overlooked. Pray with your kids and lead them to give thanks to God for the many ways He blessed them that day and every day.
Don’t be surprised if, as you try some of these with your kids, you find yourself realizing how much you’ve got to be thankful for!