Everyone is thankful in our home… all the time… every day. Whenever I make a delicious meal, I hear a chorus of “thank yous” from all members of the family. When we go to the store, I never hear the “gimme gimme” song from my kids… I may hear it from other families at the store, but it’s never MY kids throwing tantrums on the floor. They are thankful for what they have and don’t want anything more. There is never any bickering at our house either. Everyone is thankful for their siblings and other family members at ALL times.
Can you sense the sarcasm yet??
Let’s face it, thankfulness is NOT something that comes naturally for kids… or adults for that matter! By nature, we are selfish human beings who only care about ourselves and how WE are affected. I truly believe thankfulness is something that we learn and something that takes a conscious EFFORT to do! It’s so easy to slip into the “whoa-is-me’s” and forget how blessed we truly are. So here is how we are trying to teach our children thankfulness (and a great reminder for ourselves as well!)… we are still a work in progress so if you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear about them, leave me a comment below!
Monkey See, Monkey Do
I truly believe that the FIRST place children learn thankfulness is from the parents!! If I want my children to be more thankful, I need to be more thankful around them and FOR them. They are a gift from God and it is SO easy to forget that, throughout the daily routines. How often do your children hear you say, “I’m so thankful for…”?
The Thankful Game
As with everything a child learns, practice makes perfect! So we practice by doing a little game we made up called “The Thankful Game,” and it goes a little something like this… “Mommy is thankful for a warm house.” Then each family member has a turn saying something they are thankful for. Nothing gets repeated (except for the really young kiddos. Remember Monkey See, Monkey Do.). After a while, you have to get creative to come up with things you are thankful for… you’d be surprised at what your children come up with. Around the dinner table is a great time to do this too.
A lot of times, in order to feel thankful, we need a little perspective. The best way to do this is by helping others. Nursing homes LOVE to have children stop by. A child’s smile is like balm to the soul… and when you leave, I’m sure your soul will be uplifted and a little more thankful, too. Soup kitchens are a great place to practice selflessness as well. Serving others who do not have a house of their own and an over abundance of food on the table at every meal can gently (or not so gently) remind us to be thankful for the every day blessings we take for granted.
These are just a few ways in which we are trying to teach our children thankfulness. “Thank you Lord for…” needs to be a daily phrase our children hear us say. I can guarantee, some day they will pick up on it. Now if only WE can pick up on it first!
What are your favorite practices or games to teach your children to be thankful?