Teach your kids the skill of Thankfulness
Yes, you read that right. The skill of Thankfulness.
Perhaps you’ve never thought of thankfulness as a skill. But it is rare that you see a
child born with a thankful spirit. Rather, a grateful spirit is nurtured as it is modeled and
Thankfulness is a skill that can help your child grow a positive outlook, develop
satisfying relationships, and be better equipped to tackle the challenges that life will
throw his way.
How can you help him develop this skill?
Practice it yourself. This is undoubtably the hardest part of teaching your child a skill.
But the old adage, “do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work in parenting. Kids will
follow in your footsteps, no matter where they lead.
Ideas for practicing Thankfulness with your kids
Start a Thankfulness journal together. I recently read a book called 1000 Gifts that
challenged me to start a journal listing 1000 things to be thankful for. I m done with the
book, but the journal is ongoing. I m only at #120 and I have a feeling that it will take me
a while to reach 1000. But that’s okay, because as I remember to write things in my
thankfulness journal, I am learning the habit of being thankful.
Be Thankful for one thing at each meal. When our kids were young, we’d go around
the dinner table and have them tell one high (good thing) and one low (not-so-good
thing) that happened to them that day. It was often easy to think of the bad thing, but
harder to think of something good. They were forced to identify something good that
happened that day–another great skill builder for thankfulness.
Fill a thankful penny jar. Or you can make it nickels, dimes, or quarters. Every day,
when your child says something he is thankful for, add a coin to the jar. Watch the
thankfulness grow in the jar and when it is full, take the money and buy a gift for
someone who may not have as much to be thankful for.
Practice the magic word. My mom always said the magic word was “please,” but I
think “thank you” is just as magical. I told my kids countless times to say thank you to
people, but I knew that my reminders were pointless unless they heard me say thank
you, especially to them. Thank you for cleaning your room. Thank you for being home
on time. Thank you for helping with the dishes. Let thank you be a word that is heard
often in your home.
As you practice thankfulness with your children, you will learn together: first the habit,
then the skill, and then a grateful spirit that stays with them for life.