As much as new parents wish it were true, newborns simply don’t come with instructions. Unfortunately parenting is a learn-as-you-go endeavor. You can ask family and friends for advice but raising thankful kids may be something you figure out from trial and error. These ideas may help make the task a little easier, but you’ll still want to try them out in your own family.
With the bombardment of advertising aimed at children, it’s no wonder many of them have poor attitudes. They often think they need every new toy they see or that they need the name-brand clothing their friends have. Along with having the “gimmes,” many children aren’t thankful for the things they do have or they’re not satisfied with what their family can afford.
The easiest way to raise thankful kids is to start while they’re young. Teach them how to care for the things they’re given or have use of. This will help the things they do have last longer, so they can be passed down or donated to someone less fortunate when they’re finished with the items.
Teach your children the difference between wanting something and needing something. They need clothing and shoes in order to avoid embarrassment when at school; they need food to survive. They may want $150 shoes or blue jeans but they don’t need them. Even if their friends’ parents buy expensive clothing, that doesn’t mean your children have to have the same things. In fact, you’ll want to make a conscious decision about what items you want to splurge on and when to do so. When you do spend more money than usual on something, your children will be more thankful for that item than if you indulge them often.
Think of ways to use Thanksgiving as an example for your children to learn to be thankful for life’s necessities. Find a local organization or ministry which prepares food for the less fortunate on Thanksgiving Day. When your children realize how many people in their area don’t have their basic necessities met, they can’t help but be more thankful for what they have. Spending time with the elderly or delivering meals to shut-ins can also help children learn thankfulness.
Make a new rule in your home – one in and one out. Before your child can play with new toys they receive at birthdays and holidays, they must give up a comparable item. If they get ten new toys for Christmas, they have to donate ten old toys. If they get new clothing for school, they would gather the same number of items to be given away. Be sure your children see you following the new house rule, too. They need to know the new rule applies to everyone in the family – not just them.
Demonstrate thankfulness for your children. Express your appreciation when your child does chores without complaint. Tell your partner how much you genuinely care for them and are thankful for their being a part of your life. Don’t forget to say “thank you” when someone does something for you.
Raising thankful kids is possible, but it takes some effort. Children may not come with instruction booklets when they’re born, but you can be a great parent. Think about how your own parents taught you to be thankful and use some of those ideas. Or you can use the above ideas when raising your own children to know gratitude.