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Monday, November 21, 2011

Kids and Gratitude, cont.

I think it comes as no surprise to anyone that gratitude is not natural, it must be taught.

Because children are born selfish, it is our responsibility to train their hearts to be grateful. It is not an easy task, but it is a worthy one, for a child with a thankful heart is a delight to be around.  Don't you just love the sound of a pint-sized 'thank you'?  I know I do.

*The first step in teaching a child's heart to be grateful, is prayer.  Teach them how to give thanks verbally.  When we pray, we take our eyes off of ourselves and put them where they rightly belong - on God.  Gratitude originates in the heart and the whole goal of parenting is to hit the heart - right?  And gratitude draws our hearts closer to God.  There is no where else I'd rather be.

*To further lead in gratitude, teach your children to write a thank you note.  Good manners never go out of style and a thank you note is a great, simple way to show someone you are thankful, that you appreciate the time, effort, and resources it took to get you/them that gift.

*Tell your children, "no".  I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but in today's society, where entitlement runs rampant, the best gift you can give your kids is the realization that we don't always get what we want.  And if you have kids age 5+, make sure they earn part or all of the money they need to buy an item.  Someone who is always given, without having to invest in their own things, is usually very unpleasant and nobody wants that!

*Read stories/books about gratitude.  Family Life has so many great resources for families in their shop {and always at a reasonable price}.  We have a several of their books and really like them all.  "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember", is one of our favorites.  It comes with a CD about the pilgrims voyage here and what they sacrificed to make America a christian nation.


*Another idea I like is to offer a 'silver lining' award to any child who can turn a bad situation into a blessing. Perspective changes everything!

*Encourage your older children {ages 10-12+} to keep a perspective journal where they explore a situation from several points of view.  It could also aid in developing the character trait of empathy. *BONUS!!*

*Memorizing Scripture is a great way to practice gratitude {and it increases their vocabulary!}
Just a couple examples of good verses are: Psalm 50:14, Psalm 50:23, Psalm 107:22.... the list is endless really!

*Encourage generosity and give big on every occasion possible.  A thankful heart is a generous heart.

*Finally, enlist your child's help with chores and responsibilities.  The more we do for our children, the less they appreciate our efforts.  I know it can be excruciating to watch them do a chore, but stick with it.  They will get it sooner or later and be all the better for it.


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