Tuesday, November 8, 2011

4 Tips to Teach Thankfulness

     "Stop it, it's mine!"
     "No, It's MINE!"  I heard, followed by a thwack, a thud and high-pitched shrieks of injustice. Of course, this was the fifteenth time today in breaking up fights over toys between my youngest two children. They were constantly fighting over each other's toys and not thankful for the toys they had. 
    The routine of investigation, playing judge, then referee, and finally taking the prized possession away was getting old. Frustrated, I wanted my kids to understand how lucky they were to have a warm home, books, clothes, and food! Then the idea of not feeding them for a few days to create thankfulness crossed my mind; but opted not to go that route--lest I hear more fighting over crumbs.
    Growing up with five siblings was rough, my mom always made sure we had a roof over our heads even if we were living with family. She worked her fingers to the bone to ensure we had our basic needs were met, and sometimes she provided us with a few prized toys! I also remember the sacrifices my mother made just so I could have my first home coming dress, not to mention remembering well, the days in between of making do with what we had.
    Granted I know at times when I was younger what a ungrateful brat I could be, but how to encourage thankfulness in my children without doing something drastic like sending them to Africa? This began my experiment of teaching thankfulness in my little ones. 

     Spend some extra time playing with your kids, play restaurant and teach the art of manners. If you're like me, trying to carry on an a pretend conversation with a pretend butcher, in the pretend kitchen, is like pulling teeth. But keep at with the impression in mind of what you want your kids to take away from it. Show thankfulness for the pretend free meal. Optimize ways of being thankful throughout the whole playtime!
     When kids play, they learn about life. It's in these seemingly insignificant moments where a thankful heart is born, not to mention patience and being respectful to others. So go on, give it your best creative, imaginary best shot!

     Donations to family or organization is a another excellent way to teach thankfulness this season. I keep a tote in each child's room for clothes they outgrow. When it gets too full, I go through the tote with them, organizing the items. We talk about how lucky some little boy or girl will be to receive the things we are giving away.
We also go through their toys before each birthday and holiday. In order to get new toys, they must donate an old toy. Sometimes my children have impressed me with giving their allowance to buy a new toy to donate as well.

     Our children understand that the money their father makes comes from God. I always look for an opportunity for our kids to place their money in the coin bank at church or in the offering plate when it's passed around. This teaches them not only to be thankful in how God provides but in what He provides as well. Sometimes, we get extra opportunities to tithe towards missionaries or organizations asking for donations to help in disasters like the wreaked town of Joplin, to countries like Japan. 

    This year we are adding a new tradition to our Thanksgiving. We are creating thankfuls and so far, the kids love it. We started with a bare tree and cut out lots of leaves. Each child tells me what they are thankful for, we thank God for it as we write it down and posting it on our tree. 

    It's only been a couple of months (besides the crafty tree), and already my children are a bit more thankful for the things they have. Teaching thankfulness is a mindful process and in the end, I don't have to play referee quite so much!

NOTE: I love to read your thoughts about my thoughts, however if you decided to leave a comment, it will take you through two windows. Please bear with me until I can get this fixed. Thank you! 



  1. You have some great ideas here. My kids are now teenagers but I'm finding that my husband and I remain the primary role models in teaching gratitude. I have my own "craft" version of thankfulness. A number of years ago I painted a fall tree. Each November I put it up and we write with a marker things we are grateful for as we are led to do so. My husband, kids and I really appreciate looking back and seeing God's faithfulness to us.

  2. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.
    You are right, it's about setting the example before them. It begins with us!


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