How to Raise Thankful Children- 4 Tips to Help Your Children Be In The World But Not Of It
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I’m currently teaching my 2-year-old son to say “please” and “thank you”. He’s figuring out that he has a lot higher success rate with me if he says “more crackers please” instead of “more crackers now”. Thankfulness is an appealing quality. It draws others towards you.
In a world full of selfishness and entitlement, I really want my children to be grateful for the life they have-
- for clean water
- a warm home
- and loving family
- as well as the fun experiences and gifts they receive.
Children who are thankful for these smaller gifts are more inclined to be thankful for the largest gift– the sacrifice that God the Father provided when He gave His one and only Son for our sake, in order that we might be reconciled to Him through Christ’s blood.
Seeing thankfulness and acceptance of this fact in our children is the overall goal of Christian motherhood.
Have you met a child who is really, truly thankful? Parents who instill this quality in their children do it on purpose. It’s a learned process, taught one day at a time.
Whatever we dwell on infects our hearts. I want to not only live that truth, but also teach it to my children.
If you as a mom are dwelling on the things that you are thankful for, that attitude is bound to rub off on your kids. I’m still relatively new to this parenting game, so I asked some moms of thankful children in my life for advice on how to raise thankful children.
Here’s 4 practical ideas to instill thankfulness and gratitude in your children.
1. How to Raise Thankful Children:
Start with empathy.
On the days that I have morning sickness and can’t function as a mother for my 2-year-old son, I put Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on the TV for him to watch. Since he is an only child (for now), I am trying to actively teach him and show him as many examples of empathy as possible. For more on teaching your children empathy in the face of rejection, check out this excellent article from Pennies and Playdough.
2. How to Raise Thankful Children:
Dealing with complaining- “Instead of complaining, can you tell me something that you’re thankful for?”
Every child (and adult) has rough days. It’s part of life to feel disappointment, and we shouldn’t discourage our children from their true feelings, but rather teach them to accept that disappointment and still return to joy.
3. How to Raise Thankful Children:
Model the hard choice to give up the important possessions as a practice in thanksgiving
Teach your kids that it’s better to give than to receive. This is true of physical possessions, as well as your time. Consider giving up a vacation day to serve others, or even a holiday. My husband’s family spends every Christmas day serving in a mission organization that serves refugees from Asia. Another family I know spends every Thanksgiving in a downtown mission for those who are down and out. It’s really something very special to give such an important day to another person.
Teach your children that giving of their time, talent, and money is more gratifying than keeping it for themselves. These are Biblical concepts that are hard for children to understand, but will help lead them into a grateful and productive adulthood.
4. How to Raise Thankful Children:
Remember the ultimate goal- Don’t worship the gifts, worship the Giver.
It may seem easier to praise God when life seems like it’s going well, but God calls us to be thankful in all circumstances. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) This might be the hardest lesson to teach your children, but it’s also the most precious.
To be able to be faithful like Job or Paul, whom God called into very challenging surroundings, and be able to praise God… that is the ultimate point of thankfulness, but getting there takes baby steps.
With the power of the Holy Spirit, your children will be more and more able to say “More of Him, less of me.”
It isn’t instantaneous, and it isn’t easy, but every day that your children walk with God, the easier it will be for them to be more selfless. They will look like aliens and foreigners in a world of ungrateful children.
“Dear friends, since you are immigrants and strangers in the world, I urge that you avoid worldly desires that wage war against your lives.” 1 Peter 2:11 (CEB)
What about you?
Do you have any ideas on how to raise thankful children and grateful children in a world full of more obsession, more more, and more me?