Teaching Your Kids To Be Thankful

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With Thanksgiving coming in four days, I wanted to write a short article about teaching our kids to be thankful. I don’t know about you, but I become frustrated sometimes when my kids don’t show the proper amount of thankfulness, especially when I or somebody else does something kind for them. They seem to take those gestures for granted without showing any inkling of thankfulness.

We all, including you and me, tend to take almost everything for granted, like being able to see or walk or enjoy a meal. Almost everything in our lives is a miracle when you think about it. Language, grocery stores, indoor plumbing, rain and hundreds of other things that we take completely for granted are nothing less than miraculous. Yet, how often do we show gratitude or thankfulness for these things?  Hardly ever, except on the fourth Thursday in November.

So, why are our kids so thankless? Why don’t they seem to be thankful for all the things we do for them? It’s because they don’t know any better.  Being thankful isn’t natural. Being thankful is something that is learned, and quite frankly we parents aren’t particularly good at being thankful either.  But don’t be discouraged. As parents, we can learn to be more thankful and we can teach our children to be thankful as well. It’s simple really. We need only perform two steps.

Step One: Recognize All That We Should Be Thankful For

Before we can teach our kids to be thankful, we must first be thankful ourselves.  My suggestion is to find the time and a place to quietly reflect on all of the things that are miraculous in your world, your senses, the beauty around you, your ability to enjoy creation, and most of all, family.

  • Make a list of all those things that you are thankful for. You will be surprised at how long your list will get.
  • Pay special attention to all those things that you have been taking for granted all these years. These are the miracles that we rarely ever notice, like our mobility, health or our job.
  • If you, like me, believe in God, now would be a good time to give him the thanks that He deserves for all of the goodness in your life.
  • Most importantly, do this regularly.


Step Two: Model The Behavior

Your children learn most of their behaviors and attitudes from you.  If you are always angry or sad, they will often take on those characteristics.  If you are thankful and full of joy, they will usually learn to be as well. So what are you modeling? Here are some behaviors that your children can either witness or take part in on a daily basis:

  • Give thanks every morning for being granted another day.
  • Compliment the weather no matter what it is.
  • Give thanks during meal time.
  • At your kids bed time, after you have read to them, reflect on all the things you are grateful for that occurred during the day.  If you are so inclined, give thanks in a prayer.

I’m so thankful for my six kids and awesome hard working wife.  I’m also thankful for you. Nothing would make me more happy than to hear that something I wrote was helpful or inspiring to you. So, please let me know if something that I have written has given you cause to be thankful.

Always remember, a thankful person is a happy person.


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