Growing Kids with Gratitude

Sadly, one common trait in our society is ingratitude. We may say we are thankful for what we have, but very often the next sentence is, "But I need more." So how can Proverbs 31 Women help their children avoid this trap and instead "give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thes. 5:18)? Here are a few ideas.

* Play the Gratitude Game. Start by saying, "The best thing about _____ is..." and have your kids fill in the rest of the sentence. The great thing about this game is that it can be played anywhere (in the doctor's waiting room, in the car, at the kitchen table...) and you can never run out of possibilities. You can ask about everything from God to grandparents to marbles to dirt...the possibilities are endless.

* Keep a gratitude journal. If your children can draw or write, they are ready for this one. Buy them each a notebook and have them decorate it as they wish. Make sure to get a notebook for yourself, too; modeling gratitude is just as important as teaching it in other ways. Then, at a specified time every day, everyone sits down and colors a picture of or writes about something they are grateful for.

* Make a habit of writing thank you notes. For children who can't yet write, make a special phone call to say thanks instead.

* Play a Physical Gratitude Game. You'll find it here.

* Read about - or do Internet research on - those who are less fortunate. Don't limit yourself to the United States - or to the present.

* Keep a Gratitude Jar. Set a large plastic or glass jar in a prominent family area. Have the children decorate it, if you like. Keep Post-It notes or a small pad of paper and a pencil right next to it. Every day, or every week, write what you're grateful for. (For little kids who can't write, Mom or Dad can write for them, but the child must compose the note.) It's especially nice if these notes are about others in the family. For example: "I'm thankful John helped me learn to tie my shoes." Now pick a specified time to sit down as a family and read through the notes.

* Keep a gift list. Instead of having your kids make a Christmas wish list, have them make a list of what they will give to others.

* Count your blessings. After prayer at dinnertime, have each family member name at least two things they are thankful for that day.

* Create a Gratitude Book. Give your children a camera and have them photograph things they are thankful for. Have the photos developed, then have the kids make a Gratitude Book. This can be a notebook they paste the photos into, with a few words about each, or it could simply be a photo album.

* Make sure gratitude is a part of every prayer.

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