An Attitude of Gratitude: How to prepare your family for Thanksgiving

The holidays are approaching and for most of us this is the time of year where we emphasize what it is we should all be thankful for.  Our families, our health, our homes and our dear friends are all part of that equation!

What are YOU thankful for?  Clive and Ian want to share some of the things they are thankful for, in this Thanksgiving clip made just for you!

The big question may be, how do we teach our kids to be thankful?  In this era of materialism, when quality time with family is many times replaced with “stuff”, it can be a tricky lesson to learn, as well as teach!

We have dealt with this very issue in our family.  My husband and I realized a few years ago that we had entered the world of “Parental Bribers”.  You know the type– if the kids do something good, they get a reward — or if we desired them to accomplish something, we would offer the reward as a prize to be earned. It’s all very Pavlovan, and teaches them nothing more than there’s always a material reward at the end of a job well done.  It certainly does not teach a child to have gratitude; it teaches entitlement!  We blew it, and we have since changed our ways.  The kids have also learned that there is true blessing in just giving, and not always receiving.

Here are some of the things we have implemented in our own family:

1.    Love really IS enough!  When the kids do something great, they are told how proud we are of them!  Hugs, kisses and the “victory dance” are routine rewards in our family!  When we reward with a material object ALL of the time, their gratitude turns into more expectation of the prize.  *We DO still, on special occasions, give something material as a reward, but not always. And it’s never used as an incentive for acts of kindness.

2.    Responsibility is very important! Most kids hate making their beds and cleaning their rooms.  But they love belonging to the family unit and feeling a sense of pride in what they are able to contribute to that family.  Each boy has age appropriate responsibilities to help our home function.  It’s just expected, not rewarded. They don’t get paid to be a part of the family.

3.    Help the homeless / Feed the hungry!  Some of the ways we’ve done this in our family are volunteering at food kitchens, community food pantries, helping church food drives, and yes– giving a dollar to that guy who is standing outside the market.  I tell my kids, “Why worry if you’re being scammed?  Give it in Jesus’ name and hopefully that dollar will bless him!”  Through these actions, the kids need to be reminded that not everyone has a bed to sleep in at night, food on their table or even a home to shelter them from the cold.  We are truly blessed—and we must remain thankful. We must remain the hands and feet of Jesus.

4.    Hearing mommy and daddy say, “thank you” on a regular basis.  Whether these words are spoken to the drive-thru person at McDonald’s or used with our own dear spouse–they make an impact on our kids! 

5.    Keeping prayer and reading of God’s Word as a top priority in our lives!  When we take our thankful hearts and lay them at the feet of our Lord, our kids witness our gratitude for His blessings in our lives.  When we remember to intercede for the needs of others, we are teaching them that God hears and sees the needs of His children’s hearts.  Praying is a huge part of the process in teaching our kids to be thankful!

The Bible has numerous references about being thankful.  This is probably my favorite because it brings it back to the heart of Jesus:

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (New Living Translation)

How have you encouraged your kids to have an attitude of gratitude?

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