Most, if not all, homeschooling parents know that educating our children isn’t just about academics. It’s actually much more than that. It’s about preparing our children for the future, and, dare we say it, “raising saints.”
One way to do this — to raise our children for the Lord — is to teach them gratitude. This is something all of us parents can (and should!) do, even if we aren’t homeschooling… and even beyond Thanksgiving. We can and should focus on cultivating gratefulness in our families.
Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Here are some things we can do to help teach our children to be grateful for all their blessings:
1. Model an attitude of gratitude.
As parents, we are the primary educators of our children. Whether we like it or not, our kids usually refer to us as their “models” for daily living.
Thus, if we want them to learn to be grateful for the graces that God sends our way, then we must also show them — by our words and actions — that we also do the same.
2. Thank God for the little things.
Connected to no. 1, we usually find it easy to be grateful for “big” blessings, like a new car or a fun family vacation. However, we must not forget to be thankful for the “little” things in life too — and teach our kids to do the same.
For example, if you’re at a crowded mall and are able to find a good parking space, say, “Thank You, Jesus, for helping us find parking.”
Declare your gratitude to God out loud, in front of your children. Be as consistent as you can and pretty soon, your children will be doing the same thing, too.
3. Read books that focus on the value of being grateful.
There are many children’s books that can help us teach our children about the virtue of gratefulness.
For suggested book titles, you can do a simple Google search for “books that teach children gratitude” or “children’s books about gratitude.”
4. Watch movies or videos about the importance of gratefulness.
Here are some suggested titles:
– It Could Happen to You
– The Blind Side
– Les Miserables
– Forrest Gump
– Finding Nemo
– The Pursuit of Happyness
– Pay It Forward
For younger kids, you can also check out the following videos on YouTube:
Of course, it is always best that we parents or other trusted adults screen the videos or movies beforehand, to see if they are age-appropriate for our children.
Don’t forget to have a family discussion afterwards, too, about how the movie or video you watched reminds you to be grateful for your blessings.
5. Don’t give children everything they ask for.
This is very important — children who get everything they want or ask for tend to develop the “entitlement mentality”, which is very different from the attitude of gratitude that we wish to cultivate in our kids.
Teach your children the difference between “needs” and “wants,” and to be extra grateful whenever they get any of their “wants.”
6. Keep a gratitude journal.
This is something you and your children can do together. In an empty notebook, write down the blessings that you receive every day.
If your child is not able to write yet, have him or her dictate the blessings to you.This is a wonderful way for the whole family to grow in gratitude.
Of course, there are many other ways to encourage gratefulness in our kids — I’m sure you can think of more!
Whatever you do, remember that we have so many blessings to be thankful for — and this includes the privilege of being our children’s parents.
How do you teach your children gratitude?