Raising thankful children in today’s world isn’t easy. It seems as if there is a never ending amount of stuff being presented to children by the media, their friends and even extended family. It’s easy for kids to look at what they don’t have instead of being grateful for what they do have.
My husband and I have really tried to help the kids develop an attitude of gratitude. We found the following things to be helpful.
Give Your Kids Perspective
Recently, my children were feeling sad because they didn’t have the latest version of some game system. The reality? The game system they had worked perfectly fine and while it would have been nice to have the newest version, it really wasn’t necessary. We talked with them about the many kids who actually don’t have game systems and the fact that my husband and I didn’t have game systems when we grew up. We also talked about the cost of that game system and broke it down for them. How much grocery items would that amount of money buy? What about clothes? How many hours of dance lessons would that amount of money buy?
Know the Difference between a Want and a Need
Last year, a Sunday school teacher spent several weeks on this concept and it was eye opening for my children. She defined the difference between a “want” and a “need”. For example, the game system was a “want”. While it would have been nice to have such an item, it wasn’t necessary. Necessary items, or “needs” were food, clothing, shelter. I would also include transportation in that list! I do need a vehicle to be able to get them to their doctor appointments and to get food!
Give to Others
Giving to others is something that has changed my children’s attitudes immensely. We pass along our gently used clothes and toys to other families when we can. We donate our time to a local organization that raises funds for struggling people in the community. In years past, we’d take our dogs to the local nursing home to visit with the elderly people who lived there. When different organizations around the community collect food for the food bank, we donate. Activities like the above help to broaden children’s perspectives and increase their gratitude.
Make a List
One thing we always do at this time of year is to make a “thankful list”. I ask for each of the children to create a list of things for which they are thankful. They write each idea on a small strip of construction paper. We then make a chain using the paper strips. The goal is to make the chain as long as we can!
Hopefully, these tips will help your family this holiday season!