Talking to your kids about being thankful is a great exercise for adults because it helps us not take the basics for granted. When you ask your kids what they’re thankful for and they say food, a home, clothes, health, family, God, church, and if you’re one of my girls—candy—you realize that Zulily deals or Pinterest projects that you never seem to get to are just ancillary. You already have what’s most important.
Thanksgiving serves as a timely reminder just before the holiday giving season. While you’re stalking the top holiday toys and the best prices, an afternoon spent talking about appreciating what we already have can do wonders for your own soul as well.
Here are some key reminders when talking with your kids about gratitude.
1. Be content.
Focusing on what you have and not what you want cultivates thanksgiving.
You can illustrate this with a fun object lesson with your kids. Challenge them to create a Thanksgiving-themed sign using only existing and recyclable elements from around the house. Then display it proudly.
2. Designate a purge pile.
Whether it’s a day a week or a month a year, schedule a time to create a pile to benefit others.
A mom friend of mine has instituted “Giving Mondays” in her house in which her children help collect donations for a local charity. When everyone participates, it feels more like a family fun activity than a drudgery.
3. What’s in the Bible?
Talk about Bible stories that illustrate the importance of thankfulness.
Jessica has compiled three of those here: Jesus Cleanses Ten Lepers, The Psalms of David and Paul’s Thanksgiving for His Friends. Write out the related verses and include them in your child’s lunch box.
4. Thanks and giving
Participate in a giving project.
During these colder winter months, your local public school is a great place to donate a scarf, coat, jacket, and gloves. When you’re bundling your little one up, remind him or her that not all kids have things to keep them warm outside. Ask them if they’d like to donate a set to a kid in need. Or, spend a snowy afternoon inside coloring thanksgiving-themed sheets, then take them to a local nursing home to donate along with a box of hot chocolate and marshmallows.
5. Say thank you. A lot.
Saying “thank you” is more than being polite. Saying grace before a meal is more than a ritual.
Getting in the habit of vocalizing our gratitude helps our hearts stay tender to ways in which other people enrich our lives. Have you thanked your child for something he or she did today? Another great way to express heartfelt thanks to others is with handwritten notes. It’s a lost art these days, but teaching our children to write out a simple thank you note and hand delivering it or mailing it will help cement a grateful heart.
With all this in mind, I want to say, thank you for reading the “How to Talk to Your Kids” series this year and for encouraging your family to engage with What’s in the Bible?. I’m thankful for parents who seek to make a difference by creating loving, Bible-enriched environments at home. We’re all better off for it.
Cara Davis is a content consultant and co-founder of the soon-to-launch church’d.com. The former editorial director for Relevant Media Group, her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and CNN, and she’s been quoted in USA Today and The New York Times. She lives with her husband and two girls in East Nashville where she has co-founded a nonprofit called Community PTO to support the success of local community schools.