Last time, I gave some suggestions for cultivating gratitude in children’s hearts in Encourage Thankfulness: Part 1. Here are a few more ideas to try.
A joyful and pleasant thing it is to be thankful. ~Book of Common Prayer (1892)
Give your child a small spiral notebook or special journal in which to write prayers. Encourage her to express gratitude and thanksgiving as part of each prayer she writes. She can thank God for:
- Creation. I’m thankful for crisp snow, pink sunsets, autumn colors, grass and flowers, giraffes and snapping turtles.
- Provision. Thank You for our house, food, clothing, toys, books, pets, family and friends; for Daddy’s job; that Mom can stay home and teach us; for hot water, warm blankets, and comfortable beds.
- Gifts and talents. Thank You that I’m musical, athletic, smart. I’m a talented photographer. I’m good at building Legos, mowing the grass, baking. I know how to raise goats and plant a garden. I’m kind, loyal, faithful. I’m a hard worker. I can dance. I excel at computers, math, science. I love reading, writing, drawing, building with my hands.
Every day, help her look for ways to be thankful for big and little things. Find more ideas for keeping a Gratitude Journal.
Do Unto Others
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. ~William Arthur Ward
Invite your children to make a list of things they can do to express gratitude to someone who has been kind to them or to show kindness to someone who needs it. Once the list is complete, have them act on at least one of them. Their list can include things like:
- Bake cookies.
- Make a handmade card.
- Mow the neighbor’s lawn.
- Obey the first time Mom or Dad asks me to do something.
- Do a favor without being asked.
- Do one of my brother’s chores just because.
- Invite Grandma over and make breakfast for her.
- Write a poem for my auntie because she’s so kind to me.
- Sponsor a child because I’m thankful I have a family.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or food bank because I’m thankful I have food and a roof over my head.
- Fill a Christmas shoebox for a child who doesn’t have toys and treats, because I’m blessed to have so much.
- Be kind to someone who doesn’t deserve it because God does that for me.
All that we behold is full of blessings. ~William Wordsworth
Gratitude doesn’t always mean saying “thank you.” Simply stepping out of self-centeredness and considering others’ needs and feelings is a form of gratitude, too.
Your child can make people smile or feel better about themselves by placing a sticky note somewhere random. Write uplifting thoughts, kind words, and encouraging quotes. I love Operation Beautiful for this!
All Year Long
Finally, don’t just save gratitude for Thanksgiving. Help your children look for ways throughout the year to express thanks, turning the focus outward. By cultivating gratitude in your children, everyone will be the better for it.