Encouraging A Thankful Heart

The following post is from Jennifer, a lifelong educator:

Encouraging a Thankful Heart
source: epSos.de

As parents, we typically want our kids to have thankful hearts whether it’s November or not.  We sometimes find that they are anything BUT thankful:  “That’s not fair!”  “Hers is bigger!”  “I want it now!”

When most refrigerators contain a dozen choices, closets are filled with a rainbow of colors and toy boxes overflow, why are some kids not thankful for all that they have?   I believe the key to a thankful heart is actually having less.

A Story to Illustrate

My friend, Judi, was very comfortable financially.  She and her husband had trouble conceiving and Judi was delighted when their son, Daniel, was born.  Daniel had the cutest clothes and the biggest swing set.  My own son loved going to their house to play – the choices were endless.

Judi couldn’t understand why Daniel wanted something new every time they went to the store.  Thinking that maybe a new toy or gadget would satisfy his longings, and because money was not a problem, they usually bought the latest and greatest.

Judi told me that her eyes were opened one day when she attended a birthday party.  “I watched this little girl opening up things that my son often threw aside – a new pair of tennis shoes, a package of socks, a sweatshirt – and was amazed when she was thrilled with every single present.  She hugged and sincerely thanked every person who gave her even the smallest gift.  At that moment, I realized that when I gave Daniel everything he asked for, I was actually doing him a disservice.”

Suggestions to encourage a thankful heart:

1.  Pare down.  A few thoughtfully chosen items often become more meaningful.  This is a great time of year to donate gently used items to charities such as the Salvation Army and Goodwill.

2.  Give great thought to the presents you give your children Don’t let emotion interfere with your principles as Christmas or their birthdays approach.

3.  Use delayed gratification to foster appreciation.  If your children are old enough and express a desire for something, help them establish a plan for buying it themselves.  Contribute to their savings in exchange for jobs done well around the house.  You’ll probably observe a lot more satisfaction when they earn a prized possession, as opposed to it simply being handed to them.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results when you nudge your children in the direction of genuine thankfulness.  Remember that it’s a long-term process, but a goal worth working towards.

What are some ways that you help your child develop a thankful heart? 

Jennifer is passionate about children and education. She homeschooled her two sons for five years, established and directed a Christian school in Maryland for 20 years, and currently teaches in a public school in a Chicago suburb. She loves investing in relationships and delights in every moment that she spends with her family.