Instilling gratitude in kids

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Halloween is past and November is upon us with Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner. As we head into the holiday season, I am intentionally working to grow hearts of gratitude in my children.

I so often see the “gimme” monster rear its ugly head in my children, especially during birthdays and holidays. I want to get rid of the “gimmes” and replace them with gratitude. Beyond good manners, such as saying “thank you” when appropriate, I want to instill a sense of true thankfulness in each of the four young hearts God has entrusted to me. We are so very blessed.

Here are a few ideas I will be trying this holiday season as I battle the “gimmes” with gratitude.

  1. Be a thankful parent. Lead by example and model a grateful attitude for your children. There are many opportunities to say thank you each day. Thank the waitress at a restaurant for bringing your food and refilling drinks. Thank the cashier at the grocery store. Thank the gentleman who opens a door for you. Thank your children for helping with a chore at home. Your children should see you expressing thanks sincerely and often as you go about every day life.
  2. Write thank you notes. Having kids write thank you notes is another good way to reinforce a grateful attitude. Even little ones who haven’t yet learned to write can color a thank you picture. Writing thank you notes is not only a good way to express gratitude for gifts, but can be a thoughtful way to thank a coach, teacher or scout leader as well.
  3. Count your blessings. Around the family dinner table, have each person tell one good thing that happened that day. If everyone wants to name more than one thing, go around the table again, and again. Counting the blessings of the day is a good way to help the entire family develop an attitude of gratefulness.
  4. Give generously. Giving to others less fortunate than ourselves is a good reminder of how very blessed we are. Each November, my children fill Operation Christmas Child boxes to send to children around the world. As we pack toys, school supplies and hygiene items into the boxes, we talk about how the small box we packed will likely be the only gift a child around the world will receive for Christmas. When my children compare the many Christmas gifts they receive to the small shoebox we send through Operation Christmas Child, they are much more thankful for their blessings. There are many opportunities to give during the Christmas season through local churches and charitable organizations, but don’t confine your generosity to Christmastime. Look for ways to give throughout the year as well.
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