Gratefulness doesn’t come naturally. Starting at birth, babies demand what they want. They don’t show gratitude, but demand more from their parents until they are old enough to be taught the attitude of gratefulness.
The first thing to remember about instructing a child in gratefulness is that parents are the teachers. And, no matter what books you may read to a child, your example is the main thing. Children will become grateful in a natural progression if they see the behavior in their parents.
Parents may well have big goals for their family and wishes for future success, but having a grateful heart is important. Children sense an attitude of gratitude and will likely follow.
Don’t indulge –
Children shouldn’t be given everything they want, even if you have the means to provide it. Spoiling a child will make them expect to get their way and feel entitled. They won’t be grateful for things they have if they are given too much.
Live a life of service –
Growing up watching your parents serve others, especially those less fortunate, will show your children that many people don’t have much. This helps children to be appreciative of what they’re given.
Speak with grateful words –
Be intentional when you’re talking with your children. Whether money is plenteous or scarce, speak grateful words. Show your children that you are thankful for what you have.
Gratefulness remembered –
Keeping a family Journal of Gratitude can be a great way to share things that you’re thankful for. Many people do this at Thanksgiving, but it’s more powerful to keep it year-round. During family-time or at dinner, you can write down things that your children mention that they’re grateful for. Share specific things with them, too.
Saying Thanks –
Sitting down to eat dinner as a family is a wonderful time to share the day. Saying thanks in a family prayer teaches children that they should be thankful for their food. They should also be encouraged to write Thank-you notes when they are given a gift. We should teach them to always appreciate something that is given to them.
Show Contentment –
Living a life of contentment will be seen by those around us. If we are content with what we have, others will recognize it. Children will learn from parents to be content and grateful.
It’s not easy to be the teacher who instructs our children in the way of gratefulness. But, we are the ones given the responsibility and the ability. All good things are a gift from God and we can share the gifts with our children. Instructing them in a way that is natural is the best way, if not the easiest.
@2020, copyright Lisa Ehrman