As parents we try our hardest to raise kids that are kind, smart, thoughtful, and most of all, thankful. Every year when it turns November 1st, I instantly think about Thanksgiving, which then spins off into a self-evaluation of how thankful I am and how thankful I think my kids are becoming. We live in a country where things are plentiful and kids are more than provided for, so how do we create kids that have thankful hearts? Here are some tips to help you instill thankfulness into your children:
- Be thankful. Kids learn by watching and through your example. If you live a life full of thankfulness, you will teach your kids what it looks like to be thankful. Let them watch you thank a friend in person. When you thank someone, be specific about what you are thanking him or her for and how it impacted you. The more detail they hear in your words, the better picture you will draw for them on how to be thankful.
- Thank our military. Freedom doesn’t come for free. There are so many men and woman in this country who fight for it everyday. If you come across a person who is in the military, thank them for their service. Showing your kids this act of kindness and gratitude will allow them to appreciate the sacrifices that are made for this country.
- Make time for thanks. November is the perfect month to start a daily habit of thankfulness. Being thankful doesn’t always come naturally. However, if you are conscious with your efforts, giving thanks daily can become a natural routine for your family. Pinterest is full of project ideas to implement thankfulness daily into your household. For example, you could create a thankfulness tree on the wall with construction paper. Each day have your child add a leave to the tree. Have them write on the leaf what they are thankful for that day. At the end of the month, you’ll have a tree full of reasons that your family is thankful.
- Write thank you notes. Life is busy and thank you notes tend to get passed by. However, teach your kids from the beginning to write thank you notes after they receive a gift or a kind gesture from someone. It takes time and patience to have them write each thank you note, but it is worth the investment. Adults love receiving handwritten notes from kids. Plus, when this becomes a habit in their childhood, they will likely continue it into their adulthood.
- Show thanks to your kids. Okay, kids can be a handful, right? However, before I can even finish that sentence, I can’t deny that they are the biggest gift I’ve ever received. Take time to show your kids gratitude, love, and thankfulness that you feel for them throughout their life. It creates a stronger relationship, teaches them the value and strength of your relationship, and gives them the tools to create thankfulness with other relationships in their life. I’ve seen time and time again, my exact words be repeated between sweet sibling moments. Its right in those moments that I know my words are making an impact.
- Community Involvement. Last, but not least start incorporating some type of community involvement into your family traditions or routines. The holidays are a perfect time of year to find opportunities to sign your family up to give back to the community. There are food drives to participate in, nursing homes that need volunteers, bells to be rung for the Salvation Army, gifts to be bought and wrapped, and homeless shelters that need help preparing meals. Find an organization that you value and ask them for opportunities. Having your kids participate in these events will teach them values that can’t be taught with words alone.
This list is just a handful of ideas to get you thinking about how to increase thankfulness in your household. I’m thankful for Thanksgiving every year as it gives me time to reflect on how I can keep instilling this important value into my own children. I’d love to hear how your family practices thankfulness.