I have the answer. Just move your family out of a first-world country and you will quickly see them become grateful for things many take for granted. Teaching your child to be grateful doesn’t have to be that extreme.
This post is part of the Building Virtues in Your Children Series
I wish I could say that moving to a country with hardly any first-world conveniences made my children grateful for life.
However, my children’s gratefulness started a long time ago. It started when they were little, teeny-tiny.
What happened was, I just could NOT. I couldn’t deal with one more stressor in my life. I was by myself raising three kids and I couldn’t handle kids that threw fits or whined.
You ever felt like you’ve just had enough? Like you could flip your lid at any moment? That is where I was when my life got turned upside down from things beyond my control.
The very first thing I did was train my kids before even leaving the home. I didn’t have much money at all, so before we would leave the house I would have the “talk” with them.
I would sit on the floor, hold their hands, and tell them how mommy couldn’t buy them anything and not to ask for anything.
It actually worked; they listened every time. That also meant that when I was able to buy them something or give them things, they were over the moon.
They carried this through the years. Then it happened that God brought us to a second world country where I couldn’t get them things anyway.
I believe that our restraint in the past helped them now that we can’t get things so easily. They understand that they have to work in order to keep things going because that is what mommy did.
Being intentional about encouraging kids to be grateful, can be started from when our kids are super little. It is also not too late to try and change bad habits.
How to encourage gratitude in your child is a good question to ask and a great place to start.
Here are a few ideas and suggestions for encouraging gratitude in our children:
STOP giving so much.
It’s rough, I know. We want our kids to have better than we did. If you are living OK, it can be easy to just get kids what they want. Don’t do that!
Give them milestones to look forward to for their next privilege or gift. Delayed gratification is something we must help our kids with because the world does otherwise.
Don’t be shy to ask for some elbow grease.
Making your kids work for something isn’t child labor. It isn’t torture, no matter what they say. It is a benefit to them. They understand the biblical truth – If you don’t work you don’t eat. Don’t get mad at me, God said it.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV), “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. “
Accountability is key.
Not holding kids accountable when they do something wrong can have lasting consequences. Do not be lax in your discipline all the time. Be fair and be just.
It is in our discipline, with circumstances, that kids understand grace. Understanding grace results in a sense of gratitude.
Be the example.
Make it a habit in your home to say grace, to give thanks, to show gratitude whenever possible. Yes, make a big deal about being grateful.
Learn to outwardly talk about not taking situations for granted. Everything good is a blessing from above, so show thanks in the good, the bad, the everyday, and even the ugly. There is joy in it all.
Put steps in place to earn things.
Actively find ways for kids to earn money or things they want. This is not for you to get free things from your kids like cleaning, although who doesn’t want their kids to help out?
This is so that we prepare our children for the real world so that they appreciate when things are given to them and to appreciate them, even more, when they work hard for them.
Take opportunities to serve.
Seek out ways that you can serve as a family. If they think of ways to serve, allow them. Grab old clothes to donate, clean up a neighbor’s yard, throw away a neighbor’s trash. There are endless ways we can think of others above ourselves.
In serving, kids understand that the true gift of giving is better than the gift of receiving. It creates humility in a world filled with an entitlement-mentality. Kids understand the concept of working to serve. They intern appreciate when work is done for them.
Get to the root that produces gratefulness.
The root of gratefulness stems from the knowledge that we have been saved by a loving God. He did NOT have to make a way for us to be with him in eternity, yet he did.
He doesn’t have to give us grace, yet he does.
When kids understand we love because he first loved us, they understand that all good things come from the creator. A sovereign and all-powerful creator that made a way for us, and so we stay grateful for every blessing and every trial.
FREE Printable Thank Your Cards to Help Your Kids Show Gratitude | The Kitchen Table Classroom
M&M Thankful Game – Fun quick game of expressing gratitude | A Thrifty Mom
Live a Life of Gratitude – FREE Printable 31-Day Gratitude Journal | Heart and Gratitude
Gratitude Journal for Kids | Research Parent
FREE Gratitude Challenge for Kids – Teaching Kids to be Grateful | Hess Unacademy
Gratitude Jar Activity Table Décor FREE Card Printables | Craft Your Happiness
FREE Printable Journal Writing Prompts on Gratitude | The Kitchen Table Classroom
Encourage Thankfulness With Gratitude Stones | Craft Your Happiness
FREE Downloadable Gratitude Bible Study for Kids | In All You Do
Gratitude Tree for Thanksgiving – Kids Crafts | Mindful Mazing
Gratitude Jar FREE Printables | Look for Little Helpers
The Gratitude Game: Pick-Up Sticks | Teach Beside Me
Family Blessing Jar and Instilling Gratitude | Marty’s Musings
FREE Printable List Journal: 12 Days of Thankful | More Like Grace
Encourage a Grateful Heart with these Gratitude Activities for Kids | Lessons from Home
Gratitude Conversation Starters for Families | Creative Family Fun
The Best Gratitude Scavenger Hunt for Kids and Adults | Natural Beach Living
FREE Gratitude Poster for Social-Emotional Learning | WholeHearted School Counseling
Gratitude Journal Prompts FREE Printable and Journal | Rhythms of Play
How to Make a Gratitude Journal for Kids (& Families) | Coffee Pancakes and Dreams
How to Teach Children to Be Grateful (FREE 7-Day Gratitude Challenge) | Big Life Journal
Questions that Foster Gratitude | Greater Good
When we raise children who are grateful it truly can be an answer to prayer for us. It can change their mindset from self-centeredness to gratefulness.
Above all else, before doing anything above – PRAY. Pray for these heart issues for your children. Remember this verse as you encourage gratefulness in your home:
James 1:5 (ESV), “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Jeannette is a wife, mother and homeschooling mom. She has been mightily, saved by grace and is grateful for God’s sovereignty throughout her life’s journey. She has a Bachelor in English Education and her MBA. Jeannette is bi-lingual and currently lives in the Tongan Islands of the South Pacific. She posts daily freebies for homeschoolers!
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