We all want a spirit of gratefulness to flow naturally from our children. We long for them to recognize that the things they are given are because someone sacrificed and loved them. But gratefulness isn’t come by without expending effort on its training.
After the holidays it’s easy for our children to get wrapped up in a new toy or activity and forget about the world around them. I am trying to be purposeful in training my young boys in the art of gratefulness. Here are some of the ways we’re doing it:
If they receive something from someone, they must say thank you.
My father in law loves to give my boys animal crackers when we go to visit. The boys have become accustomed to this little gift and get excited at the prospect of seeing Granddad and eating animal crackers. In their minds, the two are inseparable. Before they enjoy their crackers though, I remind my boys to thank their granddad. Sometimes Justice remembers to say it before I remind him and I am happy to see a small dividend of what feels like endless training.
Send thank you notes.
My grandparents (the boys great grandparents) live out of state, but they faithfully send gifts for their birthdays and Christmas. It is a great exercise in the art of gratefulness to send a little thank you note in acknowledgement of the gift. This can be a really fun activity for little ones. We’ll be making them with finger paint. You could also let the children use crayons or colored pencils to create their artwork. I try to get thank you notes sent shortly after the gifts are received so that my boys can better understand what they’re doing.
Model gratefulness in our own lives.
Every time we exhibit gratefulness in the presence of our children, we are showing them how to live it themselves. My husband is great about thanking me for the little things I do every day. He frequently thanks me for making dinner, for washing the dishes, or for taking care of the boys. Without verbally training Justice to do so, he now thanks me for his dinner each evening.
Being grateful is more than simply saying thank you. If our attitude is not in line with our words, our children will pick up on it. We want our own lives and the lives of our children to be infused with gratefulness. To have an attitude of recognition for the people around us and what they do to make our lives better or more enjoyable.
Cultivating a spirit of gratefulness in our children will help them to be thankful for even the littlest of things in life. They will more easily see the blessings of life rather than the hardships. And they will be a joy to be around as they recognize good gifts and good qualities of those around them.
What are some tips you have for helping your children develop the art of gratefulness? What are some ways you’ve seen your children exhibit gratefulness in their own lives? Leave me a comment and let me know!