The habit of thankfulness is a powerful one, and one to be continued towards through all of life. Is it not remarkable that the apostle Paul was able to say in Philippians chapter 4;
” I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
That chapter talks about rejoicing in the Lord and giving thanks regardless of our circumstances. Genuine thanks isn’t a response to the good and the beautiful, but rather a higher calling to remember all that God is and glorify Him through our response. It’s a heart response and not something one can teach as you would instruct a phonics lesson or algebra. But none the less, little steps towards directing our children’s thoughts and attentions towards this good habit are worthwhile efforts. And in every case, that which speaks the loudest is our own life.
Questions to personally consider:
- What things have my children heard me say “thank you” for? How can I better model thankfulness in front of my children?
- Do I find it easy to be thankful for the Lord’s blessings in my life, or do I struggle to see His hand in my life?
- Consider a person you can write a thank you note for for who they are, not something they have given you.
“Thanksgiving-giving thanks in everything-prepares the way that God might show us His fullest salvation in Christ.”
― Ann Voskamp,
Intentionally nurturing good habits in our children takes time and effort. I passionately believe this is so worthwhile! Equally so – it should not be a heavy weight and another thing on the “to-do” list. Good habits are best lived out, and while we will always be learning along side our own children, our extra years on earth lend some experiences and lessons we can share with our children. While I have mapped out activities to do each day of the month that will direct our attention towards the subject of being thankful, please do fill it in with your own experiences to share of yourself with your children.
The following activities are meant to be simple, short and repetitive. I don’t imagine them taking more than five minutes a day. My hope is that through simplicity, faithfulness and focus the habit of thankfulness will be deeply rooted in their foundation.
Activities for encouraging the habit of thankfulness
1. Sit one person in the “thankful seat” and everyone else mentions one thing each that they are thankful about the person. Write down each item so they will have a permanent record of it.
2. Talk about times we have been thankful – encourage thinking beyond being thankful for stuff and discuss character in others’ as well as spiritual gifts.
3. Read a short story.
4. Focus on saying thank-you for each meal throughout the day
5. Write thank-you notes for Christmas gifts recieved
6. Read Luke 17:11-19 – the story of the 10 lepers that were healed and 1 came back to say thanks
7. Hold up 10 fingers and list 10 things we’re thankful for. Write one item on each finger with permanent marker.
8. Talk about times other people may have been thankful for something we have done.
9. Gift wrap a random assortment of items (both things they love and oddities) and practice being sincere and communicating thankfulness for the items.
10. Read a short story
11. Focus on saying thank-you for each meal throughout the day
12. Write thank-you notes for gifts received recently, or for kindness shown.
13. Read Luke 15:11-32 – the story of the prodigal son; the father was thankful for his sons return and the brother was not.
14. Hold up 10 fingers and list 10 things we’re thankful for. Write one item on each finger with permanent marker.
15. Talk about things God has done for us that we are thankful for.
16. Do something for our neighbors to thank them for being such great neighbors.
17. Read a short story
18. Focus on saying thank-you for each meal throughout the day
19. Write thank-you notes for gifts received recently, or for kindness shown.
20. Read Psalm 136:1-3
21. Hold up 10 fingers and list 10 things we’re thankful for. Write one item on each finger with permanent marker.
22. Talk about times we have been unthankful and times others have been unthankful for things we have done and how it felt and may have felt to others.
23. Serve plain rice for all our meals to show how a lot of the world does live and how much we do have to be thankful for.
24. Read a short story
25. Focus on saying thank-you for each meal throughout the day
26. Write thank-you notes for gifts received recently, or for kindness shown.
27. Read Philippians 4:6
28. Hold up 10 fingers and list 10 things we’re thankful for. Write one item on each finger with permanent marker.
29. Talk about ways that thankfulness can be shown (written, verbal, by our actions, etc.)
30. Let the boys use a camera to take pictures of things they are especially thankful for and make a photo album of their pictures
31. Read a short story