Quite frankly, I thought this would come easy with my kids. We’ve lived in Africa. They’ve played with orphans. They’ve handed a plate of food to a hungry child. They’ve seen with their own eyes dilapidated shacks. My assumption was a grave misunderstanding of the working of a child’s mind, and it wasn’t fair for me to put that on them.
They still needed to be taught gratitude.
In an age where consumerism seems to entice kids with the newest and coolest toys, it can be difficult to keep them from sinking into the “I need that toy” pit and whining if it doesn’t happen. We can’t guilt them into gratefulness. As parents, we must teach them what that looks like. Here’s how we do that in our house…
1. As parents, we model it. How can we expect our kids to be grateful if we’re not practicing it ourselves? We must be the example.
2. We don’t resort to guilt but we do talk about perspective. We talk about the kids we’ve seen in Africa. We talk about the girl whose greatest dream was to have a home, because she didn’t have the basic necessity of shelter. We put things into perspective and point out the differences between want and need.
3. We practice “glass half full” talk. Seeing the glass half full rather than half empty totally changes the perspective and even the mood. It helps us become people who dwell on the positive of any situation rather than the negative.
4. We talk about Jesus and His ultimate selfless gift that He gave for us. Everyone loves to receive gifts. The gift of life eternally with God should invoke in all of us the deepest thanks.
Give thanks unto Him, and bless His name. Psalm 100:4
We serve a God who is worthy of our gratitude. As a parent, teaching this is an ongoing discipline but a value that our family strives to practice regularly, because we want to enter His gates with thanksgiving. He is so very worthy of that.
Tommy Nelson has some great new devotion books for kids that are perfect for teaching Godly principles and values including gratitude! Jesus Calling Bible Storybook is geared for ages 4-7 and Jesus Calling Teen targets the 13-17 age group.
Wife, mother, lover of people, photographer, knitter, blogger and world traveler, Jen Price has traveled to dozens of countries, not merely as a tourist, but rolling her sleeves up and going well off the beaten path so that she might get to know the people, learn the culture, and find the heart of the place. In 2005, Jen co-founded Ten Thousand Homes, an organization dedicated to bringing hope and homes to thousands of children orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa. Currently she and her family live between South Africa and the USA. Jen continues to travel internationally, camera in tow, with more passion than ever to tell the stories of beautiful people the world sometimes forgets. You can check out her stories and photos on her blog, I Believe In Love.