Every time my four-year-old niece greets her grandfather at the door, she plants both her hands on her hips with her feet apart, saying, ‘Where are the presents?’
Her grandfather, who is incredibly generous, hands her an envelope with money in it.
But, this little girl doesn’t realize money is present-worthy at this point and exhibits her displeasure openly.
This display of ungratefulness makes me cringe and it has propelled me to look at ways I can teach my kids ways they can be grateful.
Therefore, we’re going to talk about five ways to raise grateful kids.
1. Remind your kids that not all children get three meals a day – plus snacks!
As we were growing up, my mother, who was guilty of feeding us about 7 meals a day (plus snacks) used to constantly remind us that not every family was as blessed as we were. In fact, she always said, there are ‘millions of starving children in China’. While we can change the demographic to Africa these days, the same holds true and teaching your children about the blessings in their lives helps them put things in perspective.
2. Volunteer your time and give things to people who need them
Let your children experience how it feels to be thanked for something they’ve done. As they experience this, they’ll know how good it feels to give your time, money or possessions to others. They’ll know what the Bible means when it says, ‘It is better to give than to receive.’ Practically, you can ask your kids to help clean up after supper when you visit friends or at church. Or they might offer to help the neighbours out.
3. Keep a list of every time your children say, ‘Thank You’
By keeping a gratitude list like this, you tell your children you really appreciate whenever they say, ‘Please,’ or, ‘Thank you.’ It can be a great way to remind them that you love thankfulness.
4. Tell them to say, ‘please’ before they get something and, ‘thank you’ after they get it.
This includes meals. In our house, even though my son is only one-and-a-half, we always say grace and show God we are thankful for the meal He’s given us. My son is always quiet during my prayer, as this has been a routine for many months now.
My friend who smoked always used to say to her children, ‘Do what I say, not what I do.’ I think she wasn’t too surprised when her children didn’t listen to her but followed her example later in life. The best way to model any character trait you want your children to show is to do it yourself. If you want your children to be humble, be humble yourself; if you want them to be patient, be patient yourself; if you want them to be thankful, be thankful yourself.
If you teach your children to be thankful, you’ll be left with children with empathy who can see the needs of others around them. It’s not a lesson you will regret teaching!
Rebbecca Devitt is the author of Why on Earth Homeschool: The Case for Christian Homeschooling. She’s married to her best friend and has a son who is too cute for words. She’s dabbled in Nursing, Medical Science, Medicine and Law before settling down to her dream job—being a full-time mother! Rebbecca has written for various blogs including Homeschooling with Heart, Why on Earth Homeschool and her own Christian homeschooling website, How Do I Homeschool.