Being a parent feels like uncharted territory more often than not. And that is certainly true when it comes to teaching children gratitude!
I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has done something nice for a child only to find that my “service” is seen as “expected”.
Gratitude is a proven habit of happy and healthy people.
It also happens to be a principle taught repeatedly throughout the Bible with Christ setting the ultimate example of gratitude. Naturally, this is an attribute every parent hopes their child will develop! Yet, gratitude can be a difficult concept to teach because it is so abstract. I want to share with you 5 Powerful ways You can teach your children gratitude!
What is Gratitude?
When you recognize the blessings you’ve been given and the goodness all around, you are grateful.
Gratitude is the ability to recognize God’s hand in everything.
What’s more, gratitude is an attitude and a habit.
Why is Gratitude Important?
Studies have shown that people who practice an attitude of gratitude are happier and healthier.
There are a number of studies that show amazing benefits from practicing gratitude. Overall improved mental health, decreased anxiety and depression, better sleep…. The list is extensive. But honestly, that’s really not reason enough for me to start practicing gratitude.
Sure, the benefits are awesome; but, in my opinion they’re just perks.
So why is gratitude REALLY important?
Learning gratitude is a commandment. The Lord commanded us to “be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.” (Psalms 100:4).
The very purpose of gratitude is to recognize God’s hand in your life and lives of others. When you understand all that you have is because of God, you understand that you are not alone. God is in control. He knows you and loves you. Just look at everything He’s done for you! He is aware of you, your family, and your unique triumphs and struggles. God is real and you can have a relationship with Him.
Gratitude is Action
The way I see it…gratitude is basically a verb! It is active recognition of your many blessings, even in the toughest of times. It drives optimism and hope in your life and increases your desire to serve the Lord and go about doing good!
Gratitude is not just some silly tool to improve sleep or mental health! True gratitude changes you from the inside out and makes you glorious!
True gratitude moves you to your knees to thank your Heavenly Father for all that you have and for the gift of the Savior. When you are truly grateful, you desire to do His will and to become His disciple.
“To whom much is given, much is required.” (Luke 12:48)
Family Benefits of Gratitude
Yep. You read that right. Gratitude benefits your entire family! Grateful people are a blessing to all who interact with them. So even if you make the lone choice to start practicing gratitude on your own, your positivity will literally radiate your home! Your spouse and kiddos will notice and they will love it!
How will Gratitude Change Your Home for the Better?
Can you imagine your kids showing kindness to their siblings and willingly helping each other throughout the day? That is the power of gratitude!
True gratitude moves you to action.
When you recognize the many blessings you enjoy, naturally you want to give back and help others around you. Intentional practicing of gratitude and service helps each member of your family see one another through God’s eyes. Love increases.
Gratitude strengthens your relationship with God.
When your relationship with God is strong, each individual relationship within your home becomes stronger!
Don’t be fooled! This transformation won’t happen overnight. However, with consistent and intentional effort, it would be impossible for your home to NOT be a loving and peaceful place!
5 Powerful Ways to Teach Your Children Gratitude
1. Model It
Live it! Focus on practicing an attitude of gratitude yourself! Start a gratitude journal! Practice counting your blessings daily and write them down. Express your thanks to those around you!
Kids are little sponges. They soak up everything they see and hear all around them. The good, the bad, the ugly…the positive and uplifting…and even the grateful!
Set a positive example for your kids!!
“Modeling” is just another word for “practicing what you preach”!
Begin With Yourself
You must first train yourself to look for the blessings, bright sides, and positives all around you! Just like your kids are likely to eat healthier if they see you making healthy choices… your kids will be more likely to develop the habit of gratitude if they see YOU practicing gratitude!
Gratitude is simply the habit of looking for the good all around you. It is also trusting that the good is out there, especially during those difficult times! Once gratitude becomes part of who you are, you will find it so much easier to find the silver lining in the difficult situations you’ll face.
Coach Your Children
Remember, your kids are always watching and learning…even when you think they’re not! They learn by observing, but they’ll learn so much more with you as their coach.
I want you to consider yourself your child’s life coach. You are their guide, counselor, coach, and chear leader! Create learning opportunities for your children. This can be as simple as sharing your gratitude during key moments of life.
When something is challenging or hard, make it a priority to point out the bright side and share what you’re grateful for.
It might sound too easy, but sharing your thoughts when you’re feeling grateful goes a long way! Whenever you find the opportunity, share with them your grateful thought! Let them know what you’re thinking and feeling in that moment. And then, follow up by asking them what they’re grateful for.
You teach your child gratitude by walking through it WITH them and helping them to EXPERIENCE it for themselves!
2. Express Gratitude
Practice expressing your gratitude to God and to each member of your family.
When you express gratitude to God and others daily, you will be empowered with peace, hope, and faith that all things will work out for your good.
3. Pray Often
Prayer is an opportunity to express gratitude to your Heavenly Father. I would encourage you to give thanks to Him at least DAILY.
He is the SOURCE of everything good.
He is the REASON for every blessing you enjoy.
During Christ’s ministry, we saw Him giving thanks to God. He gave thanks when feeding the multitude (Matthew 15:36) and before the Last Supper (Mark 14:23). He gave thanks to God before raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41-42).
Let your children see YOU giving thanks to God for your many blessings.
4. Use Examples From the Scriptures
The scriptures teach us to thank God continually! The story of the 10 lepers (Luke 17:11-19) is a perfect example! Commit now to teach your children gratitude! Don’t let them be counted as one of the nine who did not glorify or thank their God. Help them become the “one” who glorified God and was blessed for his faithfulness.
The scriptures teach us that God is aware of each of us. You are His child and He is mindful of you. He wants and hopes the best for you! Once you understand God’s love for you, even trials and hardships can be viewed as a blessing from a loving God. It is those very trials that teach you and shape you into someone more Christlike.
He was always there and His love was simply there regardless of merit. Likewise, it doesn’t matter what you have or have not done. It doesn’t matter how flawed you are. God’s love for you is simply there.
The scriptures are full of examples of struggles and hardships others’ faced. And would you know it, the Lord NEVER left them alone.
5. Seek Out Opportunities to Serve Others
What happens to your heart when you experience true gratitude?
Experiencing true gratitude compels us to reciprocate kindness and show God’s love to others. Appreciating what you have nudges you to share your blessings with those around you. Gratitude inspires us to become more Christlike and to develop charity towards those around us.
When we realize how much we’ve been given, we desire to give also.
Service and gratitude then become a cycle. You experience gratitude and wish to serve, help, and uplift others. When you love your neighbor and help them in the Lord’s way, you become aware and grateful for the blessings you enjoy. As you humbly serve God and others, your ability to recognize blessings increases your gratitude!
I’m sure you’ve experienced this in motherhood. From pregnancy to birth, the mother is serving and sacrificing her body from aches, pains, nausea, to overall exhaustion! Once baby is born, the mom and baby bond becomes stronger and stronger the more the mother cares for her young baby.
When you serve others, your love and appreciation for them grows exponentially. When family members are looking for the good in others and seeking out opportunities for service, it becomes impossible for relationships NOT to be strengthened. It is impossible NOT to love and appreciate each other more.
Gratitude is a POWERFUL tool to strengthen your family!
Final Thoughts on Gratitude
Consider for a second what your life and your kids’ lives would look and feel like if you never learn gratitude. What an empty and meaningless place life would be! Learning and cultivating an attitude of gratitude is one of the greatest gifts you could possibly give your child!
We combat entitlement in our children by helping them see the hand of God in their own lives. Allow your child to see the sacrifice the Savior has made and others make in their behalf. When they recognize the many ways they are blessed, they’ll be inspired to treat their family with kindness and help others where they can. They’ll understand that when they are serving others, they are serving God! They are doing His work.
Grab my FREE Mom & Me Gratitude Journal!
I want you to look for the good all around you! Journaling regularly will help you take time to ponder the blessings you receive daily.
My free gratitude journal includes writing prompts for Mom to help you get laser focused on the many ways you are blessed and loved!
And I’ve included some pages for your littles to draw and write a few sentences about what they’re grateful for!
Click below to download and begin your journey to a whole new level of gratitude!