As a mom of three boys, I LOVE it when they genuinely appreciate me. When they say, “Wow Mom, thank you so much for making cupcakes for my class.” Or perhaps, “I really appreciate the way you washed my sheets mom.” Or maybe, “Mom, I know that it took a lot of time and energy for you to plan my birthday party, and I just want to let you know that I noticed it, and I think you’re an amazing mom.”
Wouldn’t it be awesome if they talked like that all the time?
Unfortunately, I am more likely to hear the following sentences from my boys: “But why can’t you buy me those new Nikes?” and “Everyone else’s mom showed up at my school party today.” Or “Mom, you haven’t washed my favorite jeans yet?!?!”
It seems that being thankful is not something that comes naturally. I’m learning that it is something that must be intentionally taught and, perhaps if modeled correctly, “caught.” I know that it is much more natural for me to complain about the traffic, about my job, about my dirty house, about my weight, than it is to be thankful for anything.
So, how can we teach our kids to be thankful? How can we model a thankful attitude for them to catch? Here are 10 ways we can help our kiddos develop a thankful heart.
1.) Pray for them. They’ll be such happier people if they learn to be thankful and content. Pray that God would help them to develop a thankful attitude that will last their whole life.
2.) Discuss Bible stories. The complaining Israelites (Numbers 11), the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19), Paul in prison (Philippians 1 and 4)
3.) Expose them to people who have less than they have. Take them to minister to the homeless or at shelters or nursing homes. If they’re anything like my kids, they may know, in theory, that some people don’t have homes, but until they actually meet someone who is homeless, they don’t truly grasp that there are people who really live under bridges and on benches. As a family, pray for these people on a consistent basis.
4.) Make them work . . . hard. Just like you’ve always heard, you don’t appreciate something until you work for it! Teach your kids to scrub the toilet and maybe they’ll be more likely to aim better! (Sorry, I’m a mom of boys. I couldn’t resist.)
5.) Enrich their lives with relationships with people who are different. I can’t let my kids think that everyone else in the world lives in a house just like ours and in a town just like ours with skin the same color as ours. What kind of self-absorbed adults would they grow up to be if they thought everyone was just like them?
6.) Let them hear you thanking God. In the car, as you’re waking them up in the morning, as you’re doing dishes, sing songs of thanksgiving. Share with the cashier at the grocery store all about God’s goodness!
7.) Let them hear you being appreciative of others. “I’m so thankful that my boss lets us wear jeans on Fridays.” And, “Thank you Lord for blessing me with such a hard working husband.”
8.) Give history lessons. Tell you kids how long it took you to save money for your first house. Tell them how you had to work your way through college. Tell them how their grandma had to share a bedroom with her three sisters until she married grandpa and moved out of her parents’ home. Tell them those stories over and over so they can tell them themselves.
9.) Work together on projects. Not only will this encourage kids to be thankful, but it will also create memories of accomplishing something together as a family, and provide a story they can then relate to their children one day.
10.) Make them pay for things with their own money. There’s no better way to learn to appreciate the value of a dollar. “Want a new pair of those really expensive jeans? Fine, you can use your birthday money to buy those.”
The biggest blessing we can ever thank our Lord for is the gift of salvation that was purchased by His Son. It is an eternal blessing. I’ve been quoting this scripture to myself a lot lately:
James 1:17 – Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
“Thank you Father God for all of your blessings, especially the blessing of salvation and the promise of eternity with You. May we always have thankful hearts, acknowledging that every good gift comes from YOU!”