Being thankful and raising thankful kids should be a part of our everyday lives not just a seasonal act during Thanksgiving celebration. However, at times we may find ourselves in a habit of grumbling and complaining and just not being thankful. Whether it is the order you made for lunch that didn’t come out right or the piled up traffic caused by drivers rubber-necking at a crash scene. Your spouse does not put the milk back at the spot in the refrigerator where he took it from. The kids are always doing cartwheels on that white fluffy carpet that are off limits. Ok let me stop right there. See!
There are so many things that can distract us from being thankful and raising thankful kids. But we have to stop the complaining and be intentional to encourage our kids to be thankful.
Kids learn a lot from watching their parents. We have to show them what it means to be grateful by offering a genuine “thank you” to a waitress who serves your food, a helpful neighbor, someone who holds the door open for you. Don’t forget to include your kids too. Thanking children for doing things that are helpful even if it is their chores is a big deal. It reinforces the behavior and lets them know they are appreciated. The sweetest thing is hearing my little two year old voice saying thank you on repeat. That’s Saige for you – she does everything over the top!
Call attention to it when people go beyond what you expected and again include your kids. Acknowledge them for taking initiative, being especially thoughtful, or taking extra time to do something important to someone else. Send the message that you will notice their actions.
For younger children, or those who have trouble understanding emotions, it can help to have a talk about how showing appreciation makes other people feel. Try asking your child how they feel when people say thank you to them for doing something nice, and then ask how they feel when they don’t. This is a good way to get them to open up about their feelings and makes it easier for them to understand how their behavior affects others.
If your child is not comfortable talking to strangers like my oldest daughter or tends to be very shy, try to come up with a different way for them to show appreciation. They could try giving a smile or a thumbs up if someone holds the door. Or even show how much they love their new outfits by drawing a thank you picture, taking a selfie. This works great for Nyomi. She expresses herself so well through drawings and her new thing is taking selfies with her mommy.
Encourage kids to think of people who help them, from teachers to neighbors to the mail lady, and say thanks with cookies, cupcakes or trinkets. Making them and giving them are fun, and they help kids see the importance of giving back.
It is so important to not allow life to distract us from being thankful and raising thankful kids. Which reminds me. Three years ago, I was asked by one of my church leaders if they can gift Nyomi their extra thanksgiving art supplies. Of course, I excitedly agreed. Everyone Nyomi comes in contact with knows her love for drawing, painting and creating masterpieces from the from the simplest of things. I was so excited for her and will always remember the joy all over her face. Let me add how her smile just lit up the church hallway like a beautiful christmas tree.
Little did I know she was going to take that same gift she received and turn it into a blessing for others. She took some church invite cards and created custom invitations to give to her teachers and classmates. I’m so proud of my little girl. She is truly a blessing.
Whatever seeds you sow you will reap. Be sure to be minimize the complaining and raise thankful kids. I hope these tips were helpful. Please share with me any other tips to raise thankful kids.
Happy thanksgiving from my family to yours!