Is it really possible to raise thankful children in the self-centered world we live in? I say yes! Read on to make your action plan to raise gracious, thankful kids.

Thankfulness. Does it abound in your home? Well, yes my little one says “please” and “thank you” most of the time. But, let’s go deeper. As we get to the root of thankfulness, it’s clear that it’s all about the heart. How can you raise your children to be thankful? These three tips can set your kids on the right path toward a thankful heart.

Looking for more parenting tips for a happy household? Try these 3 House Rules I Learned From My Mom…

Beyond Please and Thank You

What’s the most effective way to teach thankfulness? It’s what they see, not what you say! Of course, when they’re just starting out little ones do need to be specifically taught the words please and thank you. But if constantly nagging your children to use these words doesn’t strike you as a thrilling way to spend 18 years of your life, then it’s time to let your actions do the talking. Thankful parents raise thankful kids, but consistency, as always is key! Do a quick checkup, how often do you demonstrate a thankful heart?

“Good comes from a good man because of the riches he has in his heart. Sin comes from a sinful man because of the sin he has in his heart. The mouth speaks of what the heart is full of.” Luke 6:45

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The 10 Thankful Fingers Game

I love this simple game to get young kids in the heart habit of being thankful! Start by having your little one wiggle their “thankful fingers” to loosen them up. Then, sing this simple rhyme together.

“Ten thankful fingers

to explore,

these are the things

I’m thankful for!”

Have your child share ten things that make them feel thankful, counting on their fingers and reciting the rhyme after each item. (Good heart habits plus math fluency. That’s why they pay us the big bucks folks.)

“Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:4

Practice the Gift of Giving

In our modern society, getting is often the focus, adults and kids alike. But nothing fosters thankfulness like giving! Generosity and thankfulness go hand in hand.

Little J is in a vocabulary explosion right now and thankfully, one of his favorite words is “thank you.” My kiddo is pretty goofy. He is a ham, so he loves making jokes and generally doing things hams do.  He recently started playing a game of finding silly objects around the house, handing them to me, and saying “thank you” as he gave me the gift.

Woah y’all. Think on that a sec. What if, instead of saying thank you when we receive a gift, we say thank you when we give a gift? Thank you for giving me a chance to be unselfish. Thank you for opening my eyes to the blessings I overlook in my own life. Thank you for allowing me to give.

 

So what does the gift of giving look like for your kids? Simple, everyday, acts of kindness. Give a toy to a friend? Your little one will feel more thankful for the toy he has. Give a meal to a homeless person on your Saturday errand run? Your toddler will feel more thankful for the food provided for him at home. Again, teaching this attitude of thankfulness takes training and consistency. Don’t expect overnight results, but keep your end goal in mind!

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

Here’s the bottom line: As you point your child to Christ and teach him to be like Christ, thankfulness (with the help of the Holy Spirit) will swell up in his heart.

What insight can you share on teaching children to be thankful? Share the love in the comments below!