We all could use new ideas of how to teach our children gratitude! In fact, I catch myself from time to time realizing I am focusing more on the bad than the blessings. Today, my friend Julie is going to share this simple, but helpful idea of how she has been teaching her children how to have a grateful heart. We will definitely be implementing this at our house! Hope it helps you as well.
Gratitude Journals. What are they and why are we talking about them!?
Several weeks ago, I had the privilege to speak to families at a local church on the topic "Raising Grateful Kids". What a great and necessary topic, right!? As I was preparing what I would share with these families, I believe The Lord kept showing me "It must be taught". I looked up the definition of 'Raising' which means to cause or help to rise to a standing position, awaken, to stir up, cultivate, bring to maturity, to give voice to. To be grateful means feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.
How do we cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our children!?
We learn in God's Word in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we are to "be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus."
I'm a Mom raising three littles, ages 8, 7, and 2 yrs old. Like many of us we want our children to be grateful for what they have but in a time when it seems we have it all...it can be a tough thing to understand! My question to myself and these families was "are we modeling this in our own lives?"
In order to cultivate gratefulness in our children, we need to pay attention to our own habits and the ungrateful messages we may be sending. Is it possible that they have witnessed our own impatience and discontentment and have communicated the very opposite message we want them to hear? My hope and desire was to equip the families with ideas of ways to implement this at home.
I literally googled "teaching children how to be grateful" and I compiled a small list of some of the results that were listed. The first one I mentioned to the group was starting a gratitude journal. It's as simple as it sounds. Your child writes in a journal about what they are grateful for. There is no special formula at all. In fact, I tend to overcomplicate things and I'm so thankful The Lord spoke this into my heart the week my children and I were starting our journals...
1) Keep it SIMPLE
2) Get STARTED
3) STICK with it!
Whew...I was so thankful for this wisdom He gave me! We picked up composition type notebooks at the grocery store, came home and I asked them to write down three things that they were grateful for that day and draw pictures to go with each thing.
They fill up one page in the journal each night! Kind of a quiet time at the end of the day where they can reflect on the goodness of God all around them and give thanks!
At first they listed the more obvious things such as "family," "God," and "my friends". As we've continued each night, the lists are becoming more specific and personal which is the goal!
I also recommended that the parents do this, too. Sharing with your children what you are grateful for and also writing it down in a journal will help model this attitude of gratitude.
Julie and her husband Carter have been married 11 years and have the privilege of serving together in full time ministry. After many years of serving in youth and adult ministries at their home church, The Lord called them to start a non-profit ministry in their community. By God’s grace they have faithfully led Grace Bridge Food Bank for the past seven years. They have three beautiful children who serve right along side them. She currently stays home with their youngest and enjoys sewing, cooking, gardening, crafting and spending time with other moms!