Let’s face it, most kids have a “gimme” attitude. That’s just a natural part of the human condition AND it’s fertilized by the consumer mindset of the media and the world around us.
What that means is that we have to do what we can to grow a grateful heart in our children who are inundated with “you need this” messages just about everywhere they look.
Here are five ways to grow a grateful heart in your child:
As you head into any celebration or situation where your child will receive presents (like Christmas or a birthday) talk to your child about the importance of expressing thanks right away. Tell them it’s important to say thank you directly to the person who gave them a gift and if it’s a family member they feel comfortable giving a hug, that a thank you with a hug can be especially meaningful. Remind them that gifts are sacrifices from other people–a sacrifice of money or time. If you will be having your child write thank you notes (see below) after the celebration, this is the time to let them know they’ll be doing that in the next day or so.
Make a Thank You Call
The minute your child receives a gift in the mail, make a phone call or video call to the person who sent the gift to say thank you! This let’s the gift giver know it was received and it builds an immediate grateful response into your child.
Write Thank You Notes
Even if you said thank you in person or made a phone call to express thanks, a written thank you is still very valuable. Here’s why:
- First, it helps our kids learn to express themselves in writing.
- Second, it’s a great way to practice writing addresses.
- Third, it slows us down enough to really think about things we’ve received and to express our gratefulness for those things.
If you have young children–ages two through mid-elementary–my daughter and I created some fill-in-the-blank coloring postcards that make it easy for youngsters to learn to write thank you notes. If they can’t write yet, you can fill in the blanks and address it while they can color. As they get a little older, you can fill in the blanks, address the postcard, and they can color and sign their name. And eventually they will be ready to fill in the blanks and address them themselves (although you may need to help them with spelling at first)!
However you do it, you’re laying a foundation of gratefulness and creating an important habit in their life.
Have a Thank You Note Party
A few days after a holiday gathering or a birthday party, turn on some music, make some hot chocolate, sit down with your child and write thank you notes together! Making the environment fun and doing it together makes it a lot more appealing to a child. This will take away the feeling that it’s a task that just needs to get done and will create an environment you both look forward to and enjoy!
Pray a Prayer of Thanks
As you tuck your child in bed after a celebration, you can encourage them to thank God for the people who blessed them with a gift or by giving their time. This also builds a heart of gratefulness and helps them connect the dots from what they have to the One who is the Giver of all things.
Kids have no trouble believing the world revolves around them. As parents and grandparents we have the responsibility to help them understand otherwise. As they learn kindness, patience, and gratefulness they will have a much better balanced perspective of how they fit into this big, beautiful world.
What about you? What other strategies have you used to grow a grateful heart in your child or grandchild?
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