I. Love. Thanksgiving.
I like it even more than Christmas or any other holiday. It’s the “giving” part. Especially for our children, Christmas can be so much about the “getting” that the reason we celebrate gets totally lost.
I love seeing my children perform random acts of giving. Giving puts the focus on the other person instead of themselves.
I must say that before I expect my children to operate on a level of contentment/thankfulness, I must expect nothing less from myself. It starts with me. When they constantly hear me talking about “I wish I had …. ” or “I need a new …” – it doesn’t communicate to them that I’m thankful for what I have. I had to be willing to be completely open to changing ME first.
Here’s a few things that we’ve done to help encourage a thankful heart in our children …
1. ALWAYS say “Thank You!”
This may sound a bit insignificant but training our children from an early age to always give proper thanks to someone is important. It forces them to acknowledge that someone just “gave” them something – maybe it was a nice compliment about new shoes, a piece of gum or the last burger. Someone made a choice to do or say something kind. They realize that they can make the same choices as well.
2. Prayers of thanksgiving
We pray with our kids … at mealtimes, family time and bedtime … and teach them that everything we have comes from God. Once our children acknowledge God as the Ultimate Giver, they can understand more clearly why they should be givers also.
We really try to camp out on the “giving thanks” part of our prayers with our kids. When they verbalize how MUCH we have to be thankful, the trivial “wants” seem to fade away…
We’ve been blessed to hear some VERY long prayers at mealtime. One of our sons, at the age of 4 yrs., would pray with one eye open, thus became known as our “One-eyed-Pray-er” … He’d camp out on the thankful part and whatever his one open eye would land on, he’d name it…toaster, light, refrigerator, broom, wall, dog, etc…and he would go on for.ev.er! At least until a hungry brother nudged him enough times 🙂
Giving or generosity is a by-product of thankfulness. The more thankful our children are the more they naturally give. Some of our kids are naturally more inclined to give and others need more structured opportunities to practice giving. Recently, we went to volunteer at our Regional Food Bank. This was an awesome way for our kids to realize how a few hours of their time can truly give to others who are in need. The group that we were working with bagged enough frozen vegetables to serve over 2,400 meals in 3 hours! They were pumped! Desired effect accomplished. Giving made them feel good and they’re asking ME when we can do it again. This will be a more regular volunteering opportunity for us. If this sounds like something you’d like to do with your kiddos, you can find your local food bank volunteer opportunities here.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this and I always love hearing from you! Thank you!