Have you ever been at a birthday party where the birthday child opened a gift and clearly displayed that it wasn’t what they wanted? It causes you to cringe and sink into your chair, especially if it’s your own child. The action (or inaction) of displaying an attitude of gratitude is powerful. Practicing it reduces negativity. It can literally transform a situation, a room, a person.
Why isn’t gratitude our go-to impulse?
Unfortunately, we are not hardwired with showing gratitude when we emerge into this world. We must be taught it as children and then consciously practice it as adults. It’s a muscle we must learn to develop. It takes a conscious decision of the will to practice it and live a life of seeing things from a glass half full perspective. If we want our kids to learn a lifestyle of gratitude, we must instill it when they’re young, and that takes work. So where do we start? I think it boils down to two simple things.
First, I must live it myself.
Our kids watch us like hawks, and their little minds absorb what they see and hear like a sponge. As a parent, I have the huge opportunity to think about my words and what kind of impact they will have on my kids. Do I complain that we’re having beans and rice for the third time in a week because finances are tight, or do I thank God that we have food on the table when there are people in the world who are starving? Do I grumble that the grocery store shelves are barely stocked (it happens here in S. Africa quite often), or do I thank God for the challenge and creativity of coming up with a new dinner plan? Do I groan about the traffic, or do I thank God for extra time in the car to pray or be with my kids?
It’s so easy to revert to grumbling, but it’s so powerful to speak words of gratitude. My kids will learn from my responses, so my first responsibility in teaching my kids to display an attitude of gratitude is first modeling it myself.
Second, I must give them opportunities to speak out what they are grateful for.
A friend of mine started a little game with any passenger who rides in her car. As you’re driving to your destination, you must say three things you are thankful for. Can you imagine what that does to the atmosphere of the car? It’s powerful. Play the thankful game with your kids…in the car, at the dinner table, before bed. Regular displays of gratitude will teach your kids to be grateful. It will develop a lifestyle of seeing the blessings Jesus gives us. It will impact their lives that are beyond words. Do you know what I love about gratitude? It transforms. It impacts not only my own life but those around me. It’s attractive. It’s powerful. I want that for my kids.
Thanksgiving is a great time to start living a life of gratitude. To jumpstart your family into a gratitude lifestyle, read Thank You, God, For Blessing Me. Little Hermie thanks God for everything. It’s such a cute story and is a great way to teach us to be thankful in all things.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. –1 Thessalonians 5:18
How do you teach your kids to display an attitude of gratitude?