5 ways to practice giving thanks with your children
One of the hardest things as parents is to follow through on that ugly threat that you just gave your child about not being able to go to their favorite park, extra-curricular activity, or (for the love of Pete—who is Pete?!?) threatening to not take them to Grandma and Grandpa's house!
To actually follow through on those threats takes work. Usually a form of discipline, time, a lot of words (teaching words) and frustrations.
Second of all, the parent is usually looking forward to that special treat of getting time away as much as (if not more than) the child.
I firmly believe in telling your child "no" at the store, or letting them experience a true disappointment — as much as this may hurt both child and parent momentarily, it is such a necessary refining moment for their character and imperative for raising grateful children.
Honestly, I know it is something that we, at my home, are not super consistent in, and I believe it is something we could do better with our children. I know the importance and I know the damaging effects it can cause when left unattended.
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."— John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Although we may not do everything perfect when it comes to raising our kids, here are a few ways we try to maintain an attitude of thanksgiving all year long in our home.
1. Thankful Journal. In January I started a "thankful journal". I kept seeing variations and there are a lot of great ideas that all entail writing down things that you and your family are thankful for throughout the year. For me, having a small journal in our living/kitchen area was our best source of keeping track of the big and small things we are thankful for throughout the year. This has been such a gift to me. I can look back and see the big and little blessings from God, the answered prayers, the unanswered prayers and it touches my heart all over again. I have to admit, the thing that puts a smile on my face the most is seeing Jude's handwriting where he has tried to sound out a sentence and wrote down the things for which he was thankful.
2. Thank you notes. Hey all you Target lovers out there! I know you browse that "dollar" aisle the moment you walk in the store. Pick up some of the super cute thank you cards to keep on hand. I always have a need to jot down a little thank you for someone. Letting someone know just how thankful you are for them and what they mean to you is something we should practice doing all year long. Not only should you do this, it is something your kids should do also! If you are a homeschooling family, you can incorporate this practice into your spelling/writing time for your child. Encourage them to think of someone they are thankful for once a week and to give them a thank you note. My kids light up when they give someone a note they have written.
3. Serve others and give unconditionally. Teaching your kids to think of others when a life event happens as well as in the moments of "you are on my heart" produces a spirit of thankfulness. We are all busy. We all have too much on our plate, but taking a pause while our kids are young and observing our actions to help a neighbor, to take food to the elderly, or to raise money for a worthy cause will stir in them a heart of thankfulness.
4. Verbalize thanksgiving daily. As part of our bedtime routine I will ask the kids each what they are thankful for. Sometimes it is something silly like "ice cream!" but most days their answers are very sweet and heartfelt. It is a good time to circle back around and remind ourselves what is most important. Especially on the days when there has been a little more yelling, a few more tears and a whole lot of frustration from both parents and child.
In our co-op, another tutor had mentioned that when she wakes her daughter up in the morning she asks her daughter to mention one thing she is thankful for to start her train of thought going in the right direction. I am going to steal that and try to incorporate it as well!
5. Project thanksgiving. What could that possibly mean? Thank God for the things that he has done, that he is currently doing, and the things he is still GOING to do in your life. I don't mean that you thank him for material possessions you own, thank Him so that He may use you as his vessel. You can be thankful for all those things weighing heavy on your heart because the God who knows your heart knows what you need before you even ask and you can be sure it fills his heart to hear praise of thanksgiving for all that is to come.
"Do not be anxious about anything but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." — Philippians 4:6-7
I am incredibly thankful for the opportunities of growth God has worked in me this year. I am thankful for every word of encouragement and moment of heartbreak. I am thankful in the little things and in the big things. I am thankful that in every situation and circumstance there is a reason to find thanks. Thank you for reading, thank you for encouraging, thank you for joining us on this journey. I want to hear from you! What are you thankful for this time of the year or anytime of the year? I intend to get back into some homeschool encouragement posts after the first of the year, but what would you like to hear about from me? I want to go on this journey together!
Don't forget to follow me on Instagram @happylittlemessblog. Have a wonderful week!