“In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
The benefits of living a life of gratitude have been explored many times on this blog. It is one of the topics that I am very passionate about.
Studies have proven that the more frequently we express gratitude and give thanks for everything, the more we can decrease stress and increase our feeling of belonging.
Additionally, we have experienced that we are happier, more optimistic about life itself and we have better and healthier relationships as we live out and practice gratitude.
Surely we want our children to emulate and model this same positive behavior as we are raising them and even well into their adult life.
Those of us who have little ones growing up in the home, whether it’s your biological child or your grandchild, they have been taught [hopefully] how to say thank you in response to something we have given to them. They know to say thank you by the time they are ready to go to kindergarten.
But how many have taken the time to really instruct children in the art of being grateful?
The depth of gratitude we owe our mother and father goes forward, not backward. What we owe our parents is the bill presented to us by our children.” – Nancy Friday
In the book of Deuteronomy 4:9, we have a vivid account of Moses giving very clear command to the children of Israel to very deliberate in their instruction to their children and grandchildren. He was very specific to remind them about keeping in remembrance what the Lord had done and that the stories of God’s faithfulness would not fade from their hearts.
Most assuredly, we too can testify of the goodness of the Lord to us and that we can teach our children from a very young age.
“Only be careful, and watch for yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” (Deuteronomy 4:9 NIV)
Many back then and even today, suffered under bondage and slavery. They came up through much hardships, but they experienced God’s deliverance and the Lord’s salvation.
We too have been delivered by the miraculous deeds of the Almighty God and there is nothing that we and our children or grandchildren will experience in life that the mercy and grace of God is not there to bring us out of.
A clear demonstration of this can be found in Psalm 136, in particular verses 1, 23-26 which reads:
“Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. v23 He remembered us in our low estate, His love endures forever. v24 and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever. v25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever. v26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.”
Tips on Teaching Gratitude to Children
- Instruct them to always say thank you to their parents
- Teach children to say thank you when they receive a gift or some deed of kindness from another person
- Share with children each day the things that you are grateful for
- Help them to understand that it is not the size [large or small] of the gift or the good fortune that matters, it is the thought that counts most
- As they grow older and can think a little more in depth, teach them how they can reflect on their day – what they are most grateful for
- Prepare children from very young to pray and thank God
- Help them to develop a prayer journal, update it on a weekly basis and review with them how God has answered each prayer and petition
- Talk with your children over meals, especially dinner time about God’s work in your life, their life or someone you both encountered whether at work or at school
- Have regular conversations with them of how God has been faithful in their lives to overcome obstacles and challenges
- Designate a day where you write thank you notes with your kids and encourage them to share the things they are most grateful for
- Teach them the value in developing a gratitude list with not only the good things but with things that did not go so well that stand a chance of something good coming out of it.
Final Though…then, let’s talk it over
Gratitude will go a long way and have lasting benefits not just in our lives, but that of our children. Not only is it the greatest of virtues, it is the mother of them all. Let’s not take it for granted.
So, was this post helpful? What thoughts did it evoke in you? What are some other ways that a habit of gratitude can be instilled into children? Share in the comment form below.